Zinédine Zidane, Montblanc’s newest ambassador, certainly exemplifies its tagline about leaving a mark.
Widely regarded as one of the best soccer players of all time, and also one if its most successful coaches, Zidane transmits his signature poise, intense concentration and elegance in the black-and-white campaign images for Montblanc’s latest Mark Maker campaign, breaking this month.
But who knew the strapping French sportsman always has a pen and paper at hand? “I don’t only sign autographs,” he demurred. “I like to make a note of what I must do, of the things that cross my mind, or that are important to me so that I don’t forget them. For example, if I have an idea, I put it on paper right away.”
Indeed, words are crucial for Zidane, particularly those composed by his father Smail Zidane, whose autobiography about his humble beginnings in Algeria’s mountain region remain an inspiration to many about overcoming challenges.
Zidane said he also treasures handwritten notes by his father “because of the meaning they carry.”
“While he may not have necessarily written them just for me, he has transmitted them to me, and that is really important to my father. As a family, we have safeguarded them carefully because these words are important to him and he wants to pass them on to each of us,” he explained.
Indulging fans with his signature, and occasionally a few more words, is also something he values.
“I appreciate that the process to come ask for an autograph can be complicated because they fear a negative response. So I do my best as soon as someone asks me, and I have never refused one,” Zidane said.
Beginning in the late ‘90s, he began to receive fan mail from the world over. “It was quite overwhelming,” he recalled. “In the beginning I would respond to each letter, but it eventually became complicated, but I still made sure someone would respond on my behalf.”
Known as Zizou in his native France, Zidane, 50, started his professional football career in Cannes, going on to play for Bordeaux before joining Italian team Juventus, and then Real Madrid. His athletic achievements include World Cup, European Cup and Champions League wins, and he was named FIFA World Player of the Year three times.
“He is an inspiration to many across generations,” said Nicolas Baretzki, chief executive officer at Montblanc. “He is living proof that following what moves you in life leads you to a place of fulfillment and succes.”
Zidane is collaborating with Montblanc on campaigns for its writing instruments and leather goods. Later this year he will be seen in a print, TV and digital campaign for Montblanc Legend fragrance that pays tribute to his “legendary grace.”
The brand describes him as humble and hardworking, rising to the top of his sport with passion, skill and determination. According to Montblanc, Zidane’s passion and work ethic were instilled in him by his father, and now he’s keen to transmit the same values and culture as well.
Montblanc’s fragrance licensee is Interparfums SA. The Hamburg, Germany-based brand, part of Swiss luxury group Richemont, also markets watches, accessories and personal tech.
It introduced its Mark Makers concept two years ago, characterizing the men as passionate doers that follow their intuition, are driven by purpose and a love for what they do. Filmmaker Spike Lee, actors Cillian Murphy and Taron Egerton and singer, actor and writer Chen Kun previously appeared in such campaigns.