The Puma Project
Irwin Kishner, co-chair of Herrick's Sports Law Group, spoke to Boardroom about athletic brand Puma's marketing strategy since rebooting its basketball business in 2018. The article notes "[t]hree years after Puma relaunched its basketball business, the company strategy has been simple: The younger, the better. Differentiation is strength." The absence of a familiar professional athletes as the face of the brand has meant opportunity for future athletes. "Instead of going after high-profile sneaker free agents that enter the market after their deal expires, Puma has decided to fish in a pond full of young talent. Even without basketball’s biggest, most established players under its banner — for now — the brand feels like it has an advantage over its competitors in the big picture."
Kishner praised the strategy, saying, "They are targeting a youth demographic that could become viral[.]" He added, "You could go with an unsigned NBA star, but it’s a different base. This is creative and an untapped space. I’m excited to see what they do."
The article also discussed the signing of Mikey Williams pointing out that his "universe changed on July 1 when the NCAA approved college athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness rights." The article further discusses that Williams is an anomaly in the high school basketball space because of his on-the-court talent as well as his significant social media following, noting that "Williams’ Instagram following is seven times larger than that of Puma Basketball itself."
Kishner reflected, "There are many teenagers that would love to be in his shoes," adding, "This is a very different approach but also one that is untapped. To a large extent, this could be the perfect way for Puma to try to reinvigorate the excitement of its basketball business."