Puma: On the Rise Once Again

Athletes are beginning to flock to the up and coming brand

It is starting to become a popular thing with professional athletes to stand out amongst the rest by making a statement. Hairstyles, clothing and crazy dance moves are all outlets that these athletes use to be different and draw attention from fans.

From Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the National Anthem, to Marshawn Lynch just being there so he won’t get fined, there are so many ways that professional athletes like to have their voices heard.

Shoe brands are another asset to an athlete to help expand their market, and can almost define them. Many aspiring young pro sports players look forward to signing with a famous shoe brand, such as Nike or Adidas, as it gives them opportunities to succeed outside of their sport.

Puma Design, a German athletic apparel company, is a brand that has been gaining a lot of attention in the professional sports world, particularly basketball. While Nike and Adidas dominate the sports world, representing hundreds of basketball, football, baseball and soccer players alike, Puma has decided to take matters into its own hands.

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A new frontier

Puma has been signing deals with top athletes around the globe since the 1960’s, starting with Pelé, the Brazilian soccer legend. Since then, soccer has been Puma’s specialty, sponsoring nearly 100 international club teams and over 300 players individually. Soccer is not the biggest market in the United States, but it is a large market in many other places around the world and Puma has used that to their advantage.

Pelé can be credited for vaulting Puma over the top ever since he signed. Wearing Puma boots in the 1958 and 1962 World Cup Finals, Pelé led Brazil to its first ever Finals berth, and eventual Championship. A legend was born…and he was wearing Puma soccer boots.

With famous soccer athletes such as Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli, and Cesc Fabregas representing Puma currently, they have no shortage of superstars under their belt. These players are all crucial to Puma’s ascent, as all of these soccer stars have made World Cup appearances in their careers and are all popular in their home countries. That kind of advertisement, in which people all around the world can see, is what has made Puma who they are from the start.

Not only do they sponsor soccer worldwide, they also support other popular international sports, such as rugby and cricket. This is one thing that Puma does differently from other brands, as they have expanded their merchandise to other areas. Different countries are diverse with different cultures and enjoy different things, and Puma has exploited that by branching out from what typical sports brands might do.

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Expanding the market

Puma has seen the likes of many sports legends rock their apparel. Walt Frazier, Diego Maradona, Boris Becker and, more recently, the fastest man alive Usain Bolt have all been advocates of the Puma brand.

Since then, however, with only 6 NBA players, 4 NFL players and no baseball players under contract, Puma’s reach with the most popular sports in the United States is markedly low. This is what makes Nike and Adidas so much more known than Puma.

While Puma hitting lesser known sports such as cricket and rugby is good for international publicity, it is no secret that the NBA, the NFL and the MLB are three of the largest sports organizations around the globe. People all over the world tune in for the NBA Finals, where LeBron James is sporting his personalized brand of Nike shoes. They tune in to the Super Bowl, where Tom Brady throws touchdown passes in his Under Armour cleats. America brings in a large portion of the world’s sports revenue, and Puma would benefit from adding more and more sponsorships in the United States.

This is exactly what Puma is beginning to do. While they have signed only four NFL players to wear their sports apparel, these four players have all found success in their careers. Jamaal Charles, the long time Chiefs running back, was signed to Puma in 2013. Charles is the all-time leading rusher for Kansas City and is a surefire Hall of Fame player, another historic athlete to add to Puma’s list. Jadeveon Clowney, a former first overall pick by the Houston Texans, is now one of the most up and coming young defensive players in the game of football, with a career high in sacks in 2017. Being a first round pick puts a lot of spotlight on a young athlete like Clowney, and Puma made a good move by locking him up. The other two NFL Puma signees, Julian Edelman and Cordarrelle Patterson, have found success in their own ways while representing the brand.

The biggest splash that Puma has made thus far, however, is the haul of NBA players signed in 2018 as part of their Puma Basketball movement.

After 20 years out of the basketball market, Puma has stepped back in and made basketball a priority. Along with the relaunch of their basketball program, Puma named Jay-Z, an icon in pop culture, as their Creative Director of Basketball. To go along with Jay-Z, the number 1 overall pick from the 2018 NBA Draft, DeAndre Ayton, fellow rookies Marvin Bagley III, Michael Porter Jr., and Zhaire Smith, and veterans Rudy Gay and Terry Rozier signed with Puma all within a month of each other. This is an excellent crop of sponsorships, ones that Nike and Adidas desperately wish they had a crack at.

However, Rozier indirectly acknowledged that Puma had not been doing well marketing in the United States. In an interview with Bleacher Report Kicks, Rozier stated that he will be taking over Puma. “I ain’t gonna knock nobody on Puma, but I feel like I’m very marketable, I’m the guy that they needed to sign.” He may have a point here, as Rozier took over the internet during the NBA Playoffs this past season, where he earned the nickname, “Scary Terry.” Rozier is very marketable, and Puma needed a representative that can be marketable and help them attract more athletes.

These basketball players started a trend by signing with Puma. Instead of going with the norm and signing with a safer brand like Nike or Adidas, they made a statement. They had their voices heard, saying that they are going to take over the sports world.

Even though Puma has only one basketball shoe to showcase for their athletes.

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On the rise

Puma is beginning to make a statement themselves. By taking business away from Nike and Adidas in the American sports world, they are beginning to look beyond their own standards. With the addition of Jay-z as their Creative Director of Puma Basketball, and the young players that came with him, Puma is building a foundation for something brand new.

With expressive minds such as Terry Rozier and DeAndre Ayton signing with the brand, it is only a matter of time before other athletes follow in their footsteps.

It is just a matter of time before Puma will take over the sports world.

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