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PUMA’s World Cup Logo Rocks, but Not its Social Media Outreach

by on June 27, 2010

A Facebook photo posted in January 2010 by a fellow Georgetown student Fay Johnson sparked an amalgam of questions for me.

(Photo of PUMA’s Love Equals Football logo in Bowl, South Africa. Courtesy of Fay Johnson.)

I created a mini story in my head that a young boy in Africa, perhaps 10 or 11, who loves the sport, covertly drew the image in his village, looked around, and ran…safely.

I was incorrect. Fay explained that the sketch in the city of Bowl is part of PUMA’s grassroots campaign in South Africa prior to the World Cup. (It did make sense, as I realize the puma in the ball could be a bit of a nuanced sketch for a child.) The campaign, titled Love Equals Football, inspired me to find out if PUMA was reaching South African youth via social media, along with its  grassroots tactics of sketching.

I learned that in tandem with print and online efforts, PUMA spent millions of dollars in their sponsorship of 12 African teams, including Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. They are committed. The Love Equals Football campaign can be found in print, online, and via sketch in South Africa and in cities around the world.

What I deduced about PUMA’s regional efforts was surprising: PUMA’s social media outreach did exist, yet it has been disparate and disjointed, and seems to have not fully embraced the teen demographic in South Africa.

An article titled The Global Teen and South Africa reads, “As a rule, South African youth sit fairly comfortably in the emerging market teen profile…the cellphone penetration in South African teens, in terms of having their own cellphone, stacks up handily at 86%…” The article adds, “South African teens list Coke, Nike, Billabong, Levi’s and Adidas as their top five brands…”

This information alone yields massive opportunity for PUMA (and other companies) to  reach South African teens directly and via social media, advertising, and marketing campaigns.

PUMA is clearly aware that the youth of Africa follow football (soccer), as they are featured in the company’s print ads and youtube videos. Yet, the company did not create a cohesive plan for youth in the region.

PUMA Love Equals Football print ad

PUMA did in fact create a contest for people around the world to take the best photo with a PUMA logo. The winner was a girl from Roanoke, Virginia, who won two tickets to the World Cup.

I did not see any cell phone or web integration targeting the teen market (12-19) of South Africa.

“Whenever a new country or new continent gets a big event there’s always scepticism, which I always find annoying,” said PUMA CEO Jochen Zeitz.

Here are a few suggestions for PUMA and other companies who would like to reach to teen market in South Africa:

  • Text to win contests for teens in the region
  • Best photo taken by a teen of a PUMA sketch in the region to be sent via cellphone to PUMA
  • Regional Facebook page
  • Regional Twitter account from a designated teen PUMA spokesperson
  • All social media sites and domain names should have links to each other

It seems the PUMA utilized the World Cup’s global reach to advertise the brand, but did not focus on reaching the youth in the actual arena in which they invested millions of dollars. (As an aside, the Love Equals Football domain name was not registered. The site http://www.pumafootball.com did contain information about the campaign, yet http://www.pumasoccer.com takes viewers to PUMA’s primary site. PUMA-don’t forget about the Americans, too!)

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From → South Africa

3 Comments
  1. An excellent analysis of what else Puma could be doing and a very original post on a topic that few others found and wrote about. In the midst of a war between Adidas and Nike, Puma may indeed be poised to win big, and you gave us a great analysis of how they might do it effectively. Your list of suggestions seems right, but also seems to be missing some detail around why you feel these are the right suggestions and also how they might use it. For example, you suggest a regional Facebook page but we need more detail to get a sense of what you mean by that and how you think it could be used. Right now you have the beginning of this thinking, but need to add more to complete it. (4)

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