Utilising a new collection created with Art of Football [AoF] that pays homage to then brand’s early 00’s football ads, Pepsi has announced Real Madrid and Brazil star Vinicius Jr. as its latest global ambassador, following in the footsteps of fellow countryman and inspiration, Ronaldinho.

Pepsi and football have a long-standing relationship that’s loaded with nostalgia, thanks to more than two decades of iconic football campaigns. Littered as it is with superstars, skills and cameos aplenty, the latest TV ad, ‘Nutmeg Royale’, for example, is a throwback to some of the brand’s most memorable TV spots from the early 00’s, in which a who’s who of global superstars such as Beckham, Henry, Totti, Roberto Carlos, and of course, Ronaldinho, would run amok through train stations, medieval battlefields and more. 

Well, that was 20 years ago now, and to pay homage to that era, Pepsi have brought the creative folk at Art of Football on board to create a collection that just so happens to have arrived as the perfect springboard on which to announce the brand’s new global ambassador: Vinicius Jr.

The Pepsi x [AoF] collection follows on from last year’s collection created with Golden Cabane, and the retro-inspired offerings pays homage to Pepsi’s iconic 00’s football strip that first premiered 20 years ago. Co-branded accessories in the collection include a bucket hat, shoulder bag and tote, while the collection is completed with a reimagining of Pepsi’s early 00’s football jersey.

Those with a keen eye may have spotted the new shirt in the ‘Nutmeg Royale’ ad, which just so happened to feature the legendary Ronaldinho, back in the fray once more. Now, Vincius Jr. – one of the most exciting talents in world football – is stepping up to join his fellow countryman, as well as Lionel Messi, as Pepsi’s latest global brand ambassador. 

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Recently crowned as Real Madrid’s Young Player of the Season, and following an epic UEFA Champions League tournament in which he scored the only goal in the UCL final, landing Real Madrid their Champions League 14th title, Vini Jr is the epitome of what Pepsi is dubbing ‘Generation Thirsty’; his global influence on and off the pitch encapsulates his personal style and love of design, making him a perfect partner to stand alongside Ronaldinho and Messi.

We were able to catch up with Vini – fittingly dressed out in bespoke garments from the brand new Pepsi x [AoF] collection, including the reimagined kit first made famous by Pepsi 20 years ago – to find out what his new role with the brand means to him, given the footsteps he’s following in, as well as talk more about his love of fashion and playing for Brazil at the World Cup.

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Tell us more about the Pepsi campaign "Thirsty For More”…

I'm very pleased to be a brand representative and very happy to have built this partnership with Pepsi after having followed the brand for so long. Finally working with them, working with this amazing team it's important to me, to my image and I believe I'll be with them for a long time, and we can build something big. 

The brand has so much in common with my ambition, the will to win – to improve day by day. I believe I can always get better. I would always watch when Ronaldinho, Beckham and other players who I was a huge fan of, and kept track of, were part of this campaign. Now being here is very important to me and something that can get better and better and I'm happy to be a part of it.

What can people expect from the AOF collection?

They look great and I already have my shirt, I'm happy to be a part of it. The collection looks back at a campaign from 20 years ago that’s celebrating the 20th anniversary by going back to this first shirt – I think it'll make Pepsi's fans very happy. Like I said before, I would watch Ronaldinho and Beckham when I was young, and Ronaldinho was in the last campaign I think, and that makes it even more special.

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Tell us a bit about the importance of expressing yourself, with fashion, clothes, and different looks?

I keep track of NBA players, how they arrive at their games and I'm a big fan of people in the US, so every day I fall more in love with fashion, and I like being well-dressed. I think it’s important to everyone, and it's something I care a lot about.

In terms of inspiration, I also like what Lewis Hamilton is about, as a sportsperson I'm a fan of outside of football. He’s a guy I like to keep track of, who takes care of himself and is always on point.

Do you think there are other people and players who start their own fashion trends?

Oh yeah, there’s loads of basketball players, LeBron James for example. Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldinho both have their own unique styles, and as time goes on, players are getting far more in tune with the fashion scene. It’s something I’d like to develop in my time off the pitch – Whenever I can go to a Fashion Week I do, and I have a real passion for it, anything within

the fashion world. I love taking part. I used to have a stylist to guide my clothing choices and keep me on-trend. It's something I really enjoy.

When did that passion for fashion first develop?

It was right after I arrived in Europe. There's a different style in Europe, and I was hooked almost as soon as I got here. I was in France and would always tell my friends that people in France are always well-dressed and that's why they're such leaders in fashion. I love it, and I want to get more and more into the world and tuned into fashion.

I have a lot of clothes but more trainers than clothes. I love trainers, and Nike certainly help with that passion.

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Do you see football shirts coming on-trend like basketball shirts?

Oh for sure. In Brazil especially, people love them – you see people wearing football shirts out a lot. I can't, right? [laughs] I wear a Real Madrid or Brasil shirt so often so I'm not too keen on wearing a football shirt when I go out. But people in Brazil do, and it definitely seems to be extending out across the globe as well. I haven't really seen people wearing them here as much yet though, but in Brazil, anywhere you go you're going to see people wearing a team shirt.

Can you compare Spanish and Brazilian styles?

I prefer the Brazilian style because people who make an effort wear a shirt and people in Brazil don't wear shirts very often. When I wear a shirt it's to go to the very special event or special meeting. If not, I'll just wear my own style.

The importance of music to you and the artists you listen to most?

Music is huge for me. I really like reggaeton, so lots of reggaeton singers would make my favourites list, but there’s others from Brazil too. I have lots of friends in Brazil who are singers, so it makes it easy. I’ve got quite a broad taste in music though, and I like a bit of everything. I like some American artists, Travis Scott and Drake are obvious ones, I appreciate their music a lot.

But in Brazil, if I had to pick favourites it would probably be Thiaguinho, Ludmilla they're my favourites.

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How does music relate to you playing football?

I'm always listening to music. I listen on my way to games, I concentrate listening to my music, that moment alone before the game, I'll be listening to specific music or the song I'm going to dance to during the game. So, I listen to a lot of music and it motivates me before a game.

What does playing for Brazil mean to you?

It really means so much for me. I’m living my childhood dream, and it's an achievement for me and my family, to play for my country. Now, getting closer and closer to the World Cup, you end up feeling more and more important, because everybody's watching you and rooting for you to win the title, one that's so important for the country. I’m so proud to pull on the Brazil jersey, and it will be even more special for the World Cup.

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How has your rise to fame affected your family?

Well, a lot if I’m being honest, because they're all part of it. They do what they can to help me, and that’s very important to me. I'm very happy to be so close to my whole family. I live with my whole family, my siblings, and I think that closeness is very important to everyone, and to me it's no different. When I'm with them, I feel more important, I feel more special, but in the same way that they're special to me.

The last one...What are your dreams now that you've achieved success?

Oh, I'm always looking ahead, the next goal and step up, is obviously the World Cup. I can't wait. I'm so excited it's nearly here, and happy it's just around the corner, so I can fulfil my dream of playing in the tournament.

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Photography by Rocío Aguirre and Sharon Lopez for SoccerBible

To learn more about the Pepsi x Art of Football collection, follow the Pepsi Global channels on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.