PUMA Re-launching A Cultural Icon
Pitch Preparation & Materials
Adweek: “N.Y. Office Was Central to JWT’s PUMA Win”
Marketing Interactive: “JWT Scoops Up PUMA’S Global Ad Business”
AdAge: “JWT New York Picks Up Global PUMA Creative Business”
In 2013, PUMA was facing declining market share after leaning too heavily into fashion and struggling to compete with Nike and new players like Under Armour. They sought an ad agency to help them regain their place as an athletic powerhouse and cultural icon. Our mission, as an agency, was to win the business and launch a transformational campaign that would spearhead their comeback.
We negotiated our way into the pitch, won agency of record, and launched a global, integrated campaign that continues to guide the brand to date.
Since the campaign and subsequent repositioning was launched in early 2014, PUMA’s stock price has nearly doubled and continues to be on an upward trend in sales, beating Under Armour in their growth trajectory. PUMA is also back in the cultural conversation, attracting partnerships with esteemed creators such as Rihanna, The Weeknd and Kylie Jenner. Finally, PUMA is making strides in their athletic credibility, re-entering the NBA this year among other athletic partnership.
Re-launching a Cultural Icon
From trailblazing, sustainable packaging to capturing a nascent generational feeling in their marketing with PUMA Social, PUMA has always pushed the boundaries of what it means to be an athletic brand. However, the iconic brand found itself losing relevance in 2013 to the powerhouse Nike and newer players like Under Armour and Lululemon. With a new CEO, they began to transform their company and brand through a purpose-driven platform Forever Faster, seeking an agency to relaunch PUMA to the world.
Upon digging into the brand challenges, we learned that the task to make this icon relevant again would be a major challenge. The marketing powerhouse, Nike, was spending more than ten times in media than PUMA. Under Armour was just starting to become a household name, especially among Millennials. PUMA barely had shelf presence at athletic stores like Paragon and Foot Locker and wasn’t even sold at specialty running stores. When we spoke to people about the brand, many were familiar but hadn’t worn them since middle school in the 90’s. On top of that, PUMA’s most famous athletic partnership was misattributed to their greatest rival.
Despite these challenges, we knew that there was a reason that PUMA has been a household name for over 60 years. Beyond having become an iconic fashion brand and leader in the sustainability movement, PUMA’s real history was rooted in sports. We found that the brand had a long history of attracting and sponsoring athletes who became trailblazers in their sport through what seemed like an almost cat-like, instinctual joy and willingness to break the rules in service of the love of their sport. In short, I characterized the brand as “joyfully defiant.” Athletes like Serena Williams paved the way for women and black athletes as an unapologetic leader in tennis. Usain Bolt defied the limits of human speed with a wink and a smile.
PUMA has a long history of “joyful defiance",” attracting athletes and leaders who are willing to break the rules in service of pushing sports culture forward in a positive way.
We also heard from PUMA fans who gave us great insight into what the brand meant to them. In a word, “swagger.”
“People that really got swag wear them. Only people that got swag wear it. Like I wear it for the stye. It sets the trend.”
18 year old in Union Square
PUMA had an exciting opportunity to ignite and unite the instinctual prowess in us all, on and off the field. From a broader cultural perspective, Millennials, especially, were navigating a world where playing by the rules and seeking traditional success metrics like a college education were only slowing them down. They needed permission to break these rules and define their version of success.
PUMA saw our passion for the brand and chose the agency as AOR. The integrated, launch campaign was a rallying cry to those who wanted to rewrite the rules, encouraging them to follow their instinct and pounce on opportunities. The campaign, tone and language from our strategy continues to guide PUMA’s communication and values as a brand. More importantly, it marked the beginning of a company-wide transformation and continuing upward trajectory.
Working With Me
“Molly is a passionate, eager and hard-working member of the team. Whether taking to the streets to perform live on-the-fly "focus groups," pulling together research for global brand snapshots, or supporting strategists on new business pitches, Molly contributes a massive appetite for unearthing insights on brands and consumers alike. This came into play in our recent new business pitches for Google and PUMA (both wins).”
Head of New business at jwt during project
“I’ve had two opportunities to work with Molly. Both pitches for brands in very different categories. Molly was a brilliant partner. Her biggest gift is the flow of inspiration she brings into the space. She’s driven by curiosity that’s way broader than simply the industry she exists in. She’s able to connect disparate pieces of information and bring a new perspective to a challenge. Molly is an asset that makes the work better and heightens the chances of winning that all important pitch.”