Puma Straddles 2 Worlds in Gyro Ads

Puma mixes the appeal of leisurely island life with the hard-core training regimen of the Jamaican Olympic team in nine spots by Gyro breaking this month.

The Philadelphia shop’s effort, which debuts March 15, is Puma’s first TV work in the U.S., a company rep said. Each ad opens with a quiet look at everyday Jamaica. In one, an old man plods down a dirt road with a donkey; in another, girls play catch.

Into each commercial bolts a member of the Jamaican track team, urging, “Stick, stick, stick!” Once the baton is passed, a pair of brightly colored Pumas appear on the feet of an unlikely “runner”; in one case, a man in his bathrobe.

Puma’s strategy is to forge an identity as part performance shoe, part fashion accessory. It’s a concerted effort to raise what, according to Sporting Goods Intelligence, in 2002 was a 1.5 percent share of the $7.8 billion sneaker market.

In the U.S., the shoemaker has filled shelves with low-cut sneakers sported by urban hipsters. But last year, Puma hired agencies such as Arnold’s PR and promotions units to raise its profile among serious runners. Last month, Puma launched a flight of 10 print ads from Gyro that promote its duoCELL technology.

Jamaica’s unconventional appeal attracts the younger set, while Olympic exposure—Puma sponsors the country’s team, information played up in the ads—spreads mainstream appeal, said SGI editor Bob McGee.

Spending on the campaign was not disclosed. Puma spent $6 million on ads last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.