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FIFA Fever: Athletic brands take front stage

The World Cup has always been surrounded with ad campaigns from various brands trying to get a piece of the action, and this year is no exception. Some of the world’s top brands that have partnered with FIFA include Coca Cola, McDonald’s, VISA and SONY, to name just a few. In an event of such magnitude, athletic companies compete for center stage. Adidas is FIFA’s official partner but other companies have done their part to make themselves visible to the worldwide audience the World Cup draws. PUMA is one of these athletic brands that created an elaborate campaign to attract global audiences.

PUMA enlisted the collaboration of much sought-after artist Kehinde Wiley to create four original pieces of artwork featuring three of the best football players in Africa -Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon, John Mensah of Ghana, and Emmanuel Eboué of the Ivory Coast. The theme of this campaign was “African togetherness.” The company also created a unity uniform for African national teams.

PUMA has differentiated itself from the other athletic brands by relying on their long-established relationship with African football. Unlike the other brands, PUMA has had a presence in Africa for over a decade, sponsoring football teams in many African nations. Because the 2010 World Cup was held in Africa, creating this campaign was a clear fit for PUMA.

Additionally, the company introduced The PUMA Africa Collection, an apparel line inspired by the Kehinde Wiley portraits. And as part of their social responsibility efforts, PUMA is donating a portion of the Africa Unity Kit sales to programs in Africa that support diversity.

 With such efforts and immense amounts of cash that go into campaigns aimed at huge sporting events drawing even bigger audiences, as we are seeing in the World Cup, I can’t help but wonder how effective this particular sponsorship is in terms of revenue. It is clear that supporting a social cause, like the one PUMA is doing with diversity programs in Africa, is viewed positively by the consumer; but does this actually translate into dollars for the company? Will consumers buy the Kehinde Wiley-inspired items because of the “African togetherness” theme this campaign communicates or simply because the styles are appealing to the consumer? Or is it really just FIFA fever that is driving consumers out to their favorite sporting goods stores to buy World Cup apparel?

I encourage everyone to chime in. From a marketing perspective, do you think these types of sponsorships really bring in big money for a brand or are other factors playing a role? Have you purchased World Cup apparel? Why? Do you support one brand over the other? Are social responsibility efforts important in your purchasing decisions? Or did you just like the style, regardless of the brand or the company’s support for socially responsible causes?

If you’d like to see the portraits, merchandise, and making-of videos of PUMA’s campaign visit: http://africa.puma.com.

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