Puma Reigns Supreme in NBA Player & Cultural Endorsements
By CultureBanx Team
Puma was able to sign 4 of the top 15 picks in this year's draft
Basketball shoe sales were down 13.6% in 2017
When Puma (PUM.DE -2.87%) decided to revive its dormant Basketball brand after two decades, incumbents were woefully under prepared to defend their territory. Since the majority of basketball sneakers are worn off the court, cultural swag has become more important than shoe performance. NBA superstars have started trading in their traditional shoe endorsement paths led by Nike (NKE -0.55%), Adidas (ADDYY -3.30%) and Under Armour (UA -0.45%), for Puma’s brave new alternative approach.
Why This Matters: Puma was able to sign four of the top 15 picks in this year's draft, including Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III. Their unique proposition to players comes in the form of offering them the immediate chance to become the face of a brand, and taking on issues they are passionate about both on and off the court.
The company announced its re-entry into basketball back in March, when nearly 70% of NBA athletes were wearing shoes branded by a group of just 15 players this past season, according to ESPN. Research from the NPD Group found that basketball shoe sales peaked in 2015 at $1.3 billion but were down 13.6% in 2017.
NBA players generate enormous amounts of value for brands. During the 2015 - 2016 season, players generated $333 million in brand value solely on social media. That number went up to $444 million for the 2016 - 2017 season. Also, the top 5 NBA brand ambassadors in 2018, Lebron James, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Lonzo Ball, and Russell Westbrook, have created $25 million in brand value solely for their shoe sponsors.
“Basketball isn't driven only by the performance on the court. It's the culture around the sport that's almost more meaningful,” Adam Petrick, Puma’s global marketing director said to AdAge. He went on to tell the publication Puma will be able to address issues of social justice and inequality, in a way that Nike and Under Armour haven’t done.
Situational Awareness: Signing with Puma gives up and coming NBA stars direct access to hip hop icon Jay-Z. His role with Puma as creative director concretely infuses music, culture and sports in an authentic way. However, Jay-Z’s work at Puma has raised questions about a potential conflict of interest with his role at Roc Nation Sports agency. Several rival brands complained to the NBA players union about the possibility of Puma’s allure increasing the price of their next Nike or Adidas shoe deals.
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