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Innovative Marketing Strategies

Outstanding performances of PUMA athletes and teams have strongly influenced international sports through innovative PUMA products and creative marketing initiatives for more than 60 years. Milestones in PUMA’s sports history were the development of the first football boot with screwin studs in 1952 by the company’s founder Rudolf Dassler, the legendary “two-stripe” jersey of Johan Cruyff at the world championship in 1974, the PUMA contact lenses of Linford Christie in 1996, the skin-tight Catsuit tennis dress of Serena Williams at the US Open 2002, the revolutionary one-piece Cameroon football shirt in 2004, the Italian national team winning the Football World Cup in 2006, Ferrari with its seven-times world champion, most successful Formula 1 pilot and PUMA partner Michael Schumacher, who dominated the sports for years, the world records of sprint hero Usain Bolt as well as the Volvo Ocean Race, “the Everest of Sailing” that PUMA’s eye-catching sailing yacht il mostro finished in second place in 2009.Through creativity and innovative products PUMA has always set standards in sports and style. Partnerships with federations such as Jamaica, Italy and in Africa provided the brand with the opportunity to lead the way in creative and innovative global sports marketing. PUMA was not only able to strengthen its positioning as a sportlifestyle brand, but created a whole new market by establishing the segment sportlifestyle.

Football As early as in 1952, PUMA set the first milestone on the pitch by developing the “Super Atom”, the first mass-produced football boot with screw-in studs. Eight players of German premier league club Hannover 96 sported the new mass-produced boots during the final of the German Premier League Championship in May 1954 and heralded a new era of football boot development - well before Germany’s famous World Cup win in Bern in July that year. A story to remember is the legendary “Two-Stripe Jersey” that the captain of the Dutch national team Johan Cruyff created at the World Cup 1974. The Dutch player refused to play in a threestripe shirt because he felt closely connected to his sponsor PUMA. He created a unique Dutch two-stripe jersey which debuted in the final of the World Cup in Munich.

When Jochen Zeitz took the helm in 1993, he launched a new brand strategy which turned PUMA into the most desirable sportlifestyle brand through successfully fusing influences from sports, lifestyle and fashion. The epitome of the new sportlifestyle segment was PUMA’s cooperation with designer Jil Sander in 1998 when PUMA combined - as the first sports brand ever - sports and style. The newly introduced trend found its way onto the international catwalks and especially onto the football pitches where PUMA set new standards for sports fashion and established the sportlifestyle segment.

Legendary examples of PUMA’s sports fashion were the coloured football boots at the World Cup in France in 1998 and the sleeveless jerseys, sported by the Cameroon national team at the African Cup of Nations and the World Cup in 2002. The football fashion was further revolutionized, when the Cameroon team played in one-piece jerseys for the first time ever at the African Cup of Nations in 2004. The one-piece kits caused a worldwide media stir and the international football federation FIFA sued PUMA, trying to ban the sensational jerseys. PUMA’s successful fusion of sports and style within the realm of football was crowned when the Italian national team won the World Cup in 2006: The “Squadra Azzurra” represents the perfect combination of athletic world class and fashionable flair, further extending PUMA’s position as one of the three leading football brands.

As the partner of 13 African football federations, PUMA has not only been the leading sponsor in Africa for many years, but has also used the continent to launch its most innovative products. The joy of the game, aesthetics, passion and culture are African values that PUMA also stands for. The World Cup offers a unique platform for PUMA to demonstrate its long-term commitment to African football and the continent. While Africa has been carrying the stigma of conflicts and poverty in the global press, PUMA has always emphasized the positives of the prospects and uniqueness of the continent.

In January 2010, PUMA entered into a partnership with the Environment Programme of the United Nations (UNEP) to protect biodiversity. The joint ‘Play for Life’ campaign was launched to support projects in Africa and elsewhere. To fund this initiative, PUMA launched the Africa Unity Kit, the world’s first ‘continental football kit’ designed to be worn by the 13 African football national teams that PUMA sponsors.


PUMA has always been successful in finding the right partners, who perfectly reflect and convey the image of the brand around the world. Sprint superstar Usain Bolt and the Jamaican track and field team perfectly embody that sports, fun and style have always been key elements in PUMA’s brand strategy. At the Olympic Games 2008 in Beijing, Usain Bolt set a 100m world record of 9.69 seconds, smashing his own mark from May that year and sprinted 200m in the world record time of 19.30 seconds, beating Michael Johnson’s 1996 record by two hundredths of a second. He won his third gold medal as Jamaica shattered the world record in the 4x100m relay in 37.10 seconds.

In close collaboration with Usain Bolt, PUMA developed the Theseus II, the ultimate running shoe. Running both the 100m and 200m, the Jamaican sprinter needed a versatile shoe that provided support for power, as well as firmness to hold his foot in place around the turn. PUMA produced a gold version of the shoe for Beijing, which helped power him through the greatest sprints of his life so far.

At the World Athletics Championships 2009 in Berlin, Usain Bolt wrote sports history again when he smashed the 100m and 200m world records. The PUMA Yaam sprint spike that propelled him to victory was developed by a team of PUMA designers and technicians who studied and measured Bolt’s stride and foot form. The vibrant orange sprint spike, designed to contrast the Olympic Stadium’s signature blue track and Usain’s way of achieving outstanding performances, mixing sport and style, caused a global stir.


At sea, PUMA participated with an own boat in one of the world’s toughest sailing races, the Volvo Ocean Race in 2008. As the first multi-category company, PUMA entered into sailing and combined high performance sports with cutting-edge technology, styling and adventure. The 11-men strong crew – the PUMA Ocean Racing Team – raced 10 legs and visited 10 countries in Africa, Asia, South and North America. During nine months, they covered 37,000 nautical miles (68,524 km) before finishing the race in second place in June 2009 in St. Petersburg.

Over 5 million people visited the Volvo Ocean Race stopover villages and witnessed PUMA’s il mostro, PUMA City and PUMA’s innovative market initiatives. PUMA used the 11 port destinations of the Race to activate complex onshore marketing strategies. Such activities set a new marketing benchmark in the growing sport of sailing. At the same time, while the sport of sailing is often perceived to be very exclusive, PUMA aimed to break down this misconception. PUMA’s retail expertise manifested itself by providing a unique shopping experience in PUMA City, a mobile architecture at the stop-over ports. Retail expectations were exceeded, after sales in PUMA City on a single day in Boston topped daily sales in any PUMA store ever worldwide. PUMA City is an innovative, mobile container building and has accompanied the sailing crew during parts of the Race, being shipped to and assembled at the stop-over ports in Alicante and Boston to host celebrations, press events, entertainment and in-port race viewing.


In Motorsports, PUMA underpinned its excellent competence to combine top performance sports with lifestyle when it developed highly functional Formula 1 collections as the first sports brand ever. With the support of Ferrari and Michael Schumacher as well as a strong portfolio of other racing teams, PUMA successfully established Motorsports as a new segment within a short time and became the leading Formula 1 sponsor. Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel caused a sensation in 2008 when the 21-year old won the race in Monza, wearing golden PUMA shoes, and became the youngest Formula 1 champion in history.


On the international tennis courts, PUMA caused a stir in 2002, when the company dressed the top player Serena Williams in a skin-tight black “catsuit” at the US Open in New York and changed the fashion in a sport that had seen players traditionally dress in white. In 1998, PUMA took the then 16-year old American tennis player under contract and went together with her all the way from rank 42 to number one in the world tennis ranking list.