Learning from Puma

| Tags: Business

The guys at Puma must be feeling pretty good right now. The Observer Magazine ran a nice article about the influence of Jamaica in the world, in music and athletics, pointing out that it is rare for a nation so small to achieve such cultural prominence. Puma has been associated with Jamaica for a few years now, does anyone remember their adoption of the Jamaican Bob Sled team?

The great strength of Puma is that they have been really good at maintaining their fashion strategy  as they built their athletic reputation. Pele and Bolt are pretty good stablemates. Pele transcended his sport long ago and is up there with Ali. Instead of marketing Pele, the brand simply engaged him and developed a very low key but authentic association. Bolt’s signature made for TV post performance pose is now all over Puma’s marketing. The brand has achieved two very hard things: authentic fashion and authentic sport. Its hard to argue Puma is only a fashion brand when the 100m and 200m Olympian wore Pumas. This is a great achievement for the marketing folks at Puma. It feels real and modern. Above all, it feels fun. Puma love what they do but are not over serious about it. They know its marketing and do not make the mistake of trying to proselytize. As a result the brand feels Olympian in that it correctly judged the mood of the games. The Olympics are about amazing achievements but they are also about celebration and enjoyment. Puma has both and shines out.

There is also something else going on: The Majority World is a world that celebrates the great equalization of cultures.  Puma is a European brand unafraid to celebrate the culture of a distant island nation. As such it is tapping into the real feelings of the world. Jamaica is a global brand. It is part of the Majority World. Puma has tapped both elements to join it there. As I checked in at Heathrow on my way back to Portland, Oregon, I overheard someone say: “We are all Jamaican now” referring to the joy people had of seeing three Jamaicans win medals in the 200m. Puma is right up with them.