Puma Goes Hollywood

NEW YORK Puma is looking to add more glamour to its brand.

The fashion athletic company said it would open a new office dedicated to entertainment marketing in Los Angeles next month. The West Coast office will be geared at increasing the company’s partnerships and product interaction with music and film celebrities.

Puma, Westford, Mass., will also add a few roles to fill out the new offices. It has tapped Ryan Babenzien as the head of U.S. marketing operations; Babenzien was formerly the business development and strategy consultant for Oddcast, New York. Ryan Ayanian, who previously worked as a consultant for marketing firm Antenna, Ontario, Canada, has been brought onboard as music marketing manager. Ed Choi, who joined Puma in 2006 following a stint at ID Agency, Manhattan Beach, Calif., has been named entertainment marketing manager.

For Barney Waters, vp, marketing at Puma North America, the new L.A. office is a move to go “fish where the fish are,” though he did note that the brand has had a smaller marketing presence on the West Coast for some time.

“These moves represent a recommitment to entertainment marketing as a real driver for the Puma brand,” said Waters. “We’re also evolving our approach, as there are so many more opportunities beyond product placement. Hollywood is a great place to develop relationships and brand-driven content, which can help reach the people that may not be spending as much time looking at traditional media outlets.”

Puma has been making inroads with celebrities over the past several years, working on design and advertising projects with rapper Ludacris and socialite-heiress Lydia Hearst, among others. This month, Puma unveiled its new TV campaign, featuring Scottish singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini. Nutini’s single, “New Shoes,” is being used in Puma’s lifestyle campaign.

In May, the company will begin promotional tie-ins with Speed Racer, which will include a signature shoe, product placement in the movie and worldwide in-store promotional campaigns.

In 2007, Puma spent $13 million on advertising in the U.S., excluding online, down almost 25 percent from 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.