PUMA's Progressive Dominance Over the Past Year
Words by Matty Maivha
While we are already in the shallows of 2019, one thing that is certain is the massive waves that PUMA is currently sailing on. I have been a fan of PUMA and their marketing strategy since 2012 when The PUMA Social Club popped-up in Braamfontein. Granted, I was there for the varsity social life that the vibrant suburb offers, however, the “vintage” social sports concept intrigued me. The idea of celebrating The After Hour Athletic was authentic and needed to be explored. Taking a brand that is widely associated with sports and opening it up to the streets was exactly what the culture needed.
Since joining the PUMA Group in 2017, Hayden Manuel has certainly found comfort in his role as the Sportstyle Marketing Manager; “at PUMA we have a saying that goes ‘let the kids play’, he asserts. “Brands want to be down with the kids but don’t actually let the kids do anything with the brand. It’s all about trust and understanding that sometimes as the brand guy you don’t have all the answers and it’s okay. Relinquishing creative control and a few resources goes a long way. Also, it is crucial that a brand is committed to being around for the long term.” He further weighs into the attitude that the team adopts during the strategizing process; “I honestly believe the traditional ‘campaign approach’ is outdated. These kids today are so smart that you actually lose them when you try to sell to them. The magic is in the way you act when you haven’t got anything major to push as a brand. It’s an always-on approach. Also, the power of relationships can take you to heights that no agency can. You can’t sit in your ivory tower anymore.”
From PUMA’s Run The Streets campaign showcasing the brand’s IGNITE Limitless Core and IGNITE evoKNIT Fade collection (while paying homage to the cultural exchange that comes from the various forms of the arts); to the Do You platform featuring PUMA brand ambassador, Nomzamo Mbatha that encourages women to channel their confidence as well as focus on their strengths and make their world their own - PUMA has been taking on a relevant and relatable approach to marketing. “It is always so inspiring working on a campaign which is brought to life by local talent. PUMA is a brand for people all over the world, each on their own journey” says PUMA South Africa’s Marketing Director, Brett Bellinger.
Baring in mind that PUMA is part of Kering - an international luxury group based in Paris that houses brands including Balenciaga, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Yves Saint Laurent, and Bottega Veneta; it is only expected that PUMA produces quality content that mirrors these international brands. PUMA's dominance remains progressive in the sense that the amount of research and familiarity with the needs of their market is met by the core knowledge of what the consumers and the culture want out of the brand. "I’m present. I go to the clubs, the shows, the exhibitions, I’m in the streets and I keep people around me that know what's going on. I’m borderline obsessive with sneakers, art, fashion, music, pop culture globally and locally. This really is my life’s work. I’m notoriously hard to get hold of but I know everything that’s happening. Also, at PUMA we look after our people so it often seems like people are ambassadors long after our formal agreement has ended and that’s the power of relationships." says Hayden.
A testament to the quality and consistent content we’ve been seeing on our timelines is the number of local rappers jumping on the PUMA SELECT wave. This is a platform put forward that fuses performance with culture and fashion by revisiting PUMA’s rich history and innovation as a leading sports brand while combining this with our philosophy of creating a premium product for the willing consumer. "I'm a new PUMA boy. I'm just learning about them, but I recently saw a picture of Raekwon in these [PUMA Cell], so that let me know that I was behind and I had to catch up.", says Cape Town born and bred rapper Youngsta recently in an interview with MTVBase VJ and Radio Host, Tshego Koke.
PUMA has been making the waves with their futuristic style and if you have not hopped on, it’s time to get familiar because they seem to not be stopping anytime soon.