Puma is one of the world's top four sportswear manufacturers. (It was overtaken for 3rd place by Under Armour in 2017). The company has a longstanding historic rivalry with the #2 manufacturer Adidas, not least because the two companies were founded by brothers Rudi and Adi Dassler, former business partners who fell out in the late 1940s and spent the rest of their lives as bitter enemies. Rudi Dassler's Puma built up a strong following over the next three decades as one of the two leaders in sporting shoes and apparel but was unprepared for the dramatic changes in the sportswear market which resulted from Nike's spectacular growth in the 1980s. By 1990 Puma was struggling on the brink of bankruptcy, before being rejuvenated by a youthful new management team led by CEO Jochen Zeitz. He continued to build the profile and prestige of the brand as it passed through a succession of different owners over the following decade, until becoming a subsidiary of what is now French fashion group Kering, also the owner of Gucci. Puma made up for its lack of scale with a small collection of carefully selected endorsement partnerships, which delivered high profile at comparatively low cost. By far the most successful of these was with sprinter Usain Bolt. A new and equally influential partner has been the singer Rihanna, with whom it produces the Fenty Puma sportswear line. Other current partners include sprinter Andre De Grasse, golfers Lexi Thompson and Rickie Fowler, NBA stars Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley, celebrities including Lewis Hamilton, Cara Delevingne, Selena Gomez and supermodel Adriana Lima, and even the New York City Ballet. Rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z has masterminded a return for Puma to US basketball as part-time creative director. Football partners include the players Antoine Griezmann and Romelu Lukaku, clubs AC Milan, Borussia Munchengladbach and Olympique de Marseille, and the national teams of Italy, Switzerland and Uruguay. It replaced Nike in 2019 as kit sponsor for English Premier League champions Manchester City, its most valuable sponsorship deal to-date. Puma's performance faded in the early 2010s, prompting the departure of several senior managers including eventually CEO Zeitz. His successor, former professional footballer Bjorn Gulden, has gradually restored stability and delivered a new growth spurt. Revenues topped €4bn for the first time in 2017, rising to €4.6bn in 2018, with net income of €230m. In May 2018, Kering spun off the majority of its stake in the business to shareholders in order to focus solely on luxury goods. It retains around 16% of equity.
Capsule checked 20th December 2019
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Historical profile information for Puma
Adbrands Social Media 22nd Mar 2019: "Radiant Venom". Puma has teamed up with German footwear retailer Overkill for a limited edition resurrection of its classic Venom sneaker in a new colour scheme. The agency is Berlin-based creative boutique XY. Berliners (or regular visitors to that city) will recognise that this is set not on the surface of some distant planet but in a post-apocalyptic version of Berlin itself. Those are the ruins of the city's famous TV tower landmark. In fact the agency has constructed a whole back story, in which the explorer is merely a digital avatar for that recumbent girl, the last survivor of a nuclear disaster, collecting fragments of the past to keep herself alive. Phew! All that in 60 seconds, plus Joy Division on the soundtrack!
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Jun 2018: Sportswear brand Puma announced a move back into basketball, naming rap superstar Jay-Z as its new "president of basketball operations" and signing up rising stars Marvin Bagley III and Deandre Ayton to endorsement contracts. Jay-Z, a noted hoops fan, is to assist with the selection of other player endorsements and will oversee art direction and design. Puma has been largely absent from basketball since the 1990.
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Jan 2018: Gucci and YSL owner Kering is to quit the sportswear business with a plan to spin off most of its stake in Puma to shareholders. It will retain around 16% of Puma's equity but distribute the rest of what is currently an 84% holding among Kering shareholders. A small proportion of Puma shares are already publicly quoted. The Pinault family's private investment group Artemis will become the biggest shareholder with around 29%. Instead Kering will focus its attentions purely on luxury brands. It also plans to sell its boardsports apparel and accessories brand Volcom.
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Dec 2014: Puma secured a multi-year deal with singer Rihanna to make her the sportswear brand's global ambassador for women's fitness, and creative director for a new line of products to be launched next year. Puma CEO Bjorn Gulden said, "Although she's not an athlete, [Rihanna] is an icon for our main target group... She has, by her nature, been involved in the glamorous side of life and is also very sporty, which is the perfect combination for us... Rihanna probably has to work out more than many athletes to remain as fit as she is." For her part, the singer said "I loved their vision for the collaboration and especially the creative freedom. They didn't just want to throw my face on a billboard and call it a day."
Adbrands Weekly Update 7th Aug 2014: Ads of the Week: "Forever Faster". The World Cup has been and gone but sportswear ads never stop. JWT New York's debut branding campaign for Puma displays a refreshing sense of self-deprecating humour that is so lacking in Nike and especially Adidas marketing. "Yeah, we're #3...," says Puma, "but we have loads more fun than those other guys." There's a star turn by Usain Bolt - and is that a very multi-racial Swedish handball team? - alongside other members of Puma's small but perfectly formed roster of star athletes. A good start, JWT.
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