Case study: Global head of entertainment at PUMA
Under the direction of Chairman & CEO Jochen Zeitz and reporting directly to the Global Brand Manager Antonio Bertone in Boston, I was part of the small International team responsible for PUMA’s resurgence in the 2000s by repositioning it via fashion, music and entertainment.
Based from my office in Soho, London, I was solely responsible for promoting and implementing all of their product and marketing innovations in the UK whilst monitoring and reporting on the latest trends —making me the subject of a BBC 2 documentary.
Douglas Holt featured the repositioning of PUMA in his 2004 book: “How Brands Become Icons: The Principles of Cultural Branding.”
This work saw PUMA’s net earnings spike by 43.5% to more than $343.5 million, which was “triggered by the skyrocketing retail popularity of Puma chic. Inside Puma, they called it the “sportlifestyle” effect.”*
I was the Global Head of Entertainment at PUMA International for five years during this critical period.
Before Jochen Zeitz’s vision to reposition PUMA, it was considered an obscure brand in the minds of most consumers.
It had great heritage via past ambassadors such as football legend Pelé, Tommie Smith and Walt Frazier, who had his own branded PUMA shoe, “Clyde”, but the company was deemed adrift.
Sales declined steadily; the brand was perceived as a low-priced brand with low production values. In 1993 Puma lost $32 million.
Jochen Zeitz’s turnaround plan was segmented into phases.
Phase one was about restructuring PUMA across the board.
Phase two saw Zeitz launch the plan to reposition the PUMA brand worldwide via fashion and entertainment. The first release was a new innovative collaboration that merged sports and fashion: a shoe with designer Jil Sander. It was a concept that, at the time, shocked and broke barriers as having never been done before.
The new ideas, alliances, product lines and interpretations of “sportlifestyle” continued throughout the 2000s, all supported by product placement, a new marketing concept.
Launched model Christy Turlington’s Nuala yoga range in the UK. Turlington and clothing designer Marc Jacobs created one of the Nuala accessories, the “Christy” canvas and leather bag for carrying yoga mats.
Promoted the “96 Hours” collection, which targeted young professionals who needed functional, fashionable crossover items that travelled well.
Launched the PUMA concept store on Carnaby St. London
Introduced the new footwear lines into the UK, including Mostro, Sprint, Avanti, and Porsche-inspired footwear for motorsports fans designed in cooperation with Italian motorsports equipment maker Sparco
Made professional introductions to potential UK partners, including Four Marketing —the UK's most influential 360º fashion business—and Cathal McAteer, about the premium “Platinum” category of PUMA clothing
Promoted footwear line produced in collaboration with Japanese designer Yasuhiro Mihara