Puma Takes to the High Seas for Social Trials

Bloggers sent to Abu Dhabi to cover Volvo Ocean Race via Tumblr. London next?

Puma can’t yet legally discuss its Olympics marketing strategy, according to Remi Carlioz, the company’s head of digital marketing. But to get an idea of how Puma will promote its star athlete and three-time Olympic gold medalist sprinter Usain Bolt, one need only turn to the Middle East.

In mid-January, Puma sent 10 bloggers to Abu Dhabi to cover the company’s sponsored boat, Mar Mostro, as it competed in the third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. Puma has recruited bloggers to talk about the brand before, but this event marked the first time it tested Tumblr. (The bloggers were also encouraged to post to Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #marmostro.)

Puma chose to test Tumblr because of its “unique social-sharing capabilities,” which can create a “snowball effect,” Carlioz said. To prove that effect, he referred to a Tumblr post by blogger Jamie Beck that featured a moving image of the Mar Mostro gliding through the water that garnered nearly 25,000 interactions (or “notes,” in Tumblr parlance) as of Jan. 26. Carlioz said that 60 percent of the post’s interactions were users reblogging it. Tumblr doesn’t share reach statistics, but Puma estimated, based on Beck’s 200,000-plus Tumblr followers, that the post generated 6 million to 7 million unique impressions.

“That’s without taking into consideration Twitter or Instagram,” said Carlioz. Adding Beck’s more than 12,000 Instagram followers and more than 14,000 Twitter followers, Puma estimates the post generated between 35 million and 40 million impressions.

For the Olympics, Puma won’t replicate the strategy it deployed for the Volvo Ocean Race. However, Carlioz said, Puma has some ideas for applying the same philosophy, using outside partners like technology or social media platforms.

Part of this new social trial is to expand Puma’s brand reach. “We are not the official sponsor of the Olympics,” Carlioz said. “So we have to find different ways to talk to our current audience but also to reach out to [new] audiences in new ways."

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