Bjorn Gulden, CEO of the Herzogenaurach, Germany-based firm, made waves earlier this month when he said the brand, historically a soccer powerhouse, would hold most of its marketing efforts until the end of the World Cup to coincide with the back-to-school period.
But according to Tara McRae, SVP of strategic planning and brand management at Westford, Mass.-based Puma North America, that doesn’t mean the company will sit out the tournament entirely. With eight of its sponsored teams on the field (including Ghana, Uruguay and especially Italy), the company will rely on social media to support its players and help grow its soccer business in the U.S.
Here, McRae sounds off on the Cat’s plans for the World Cup.
1. What is Puma’s marketing focus during the tournament?
TM: Social media is a key part of our marketing mix for the World Cup. We are utilizing as many authentic and real game images as possible to bring key stories to life. These images are shared on our social handles, along with a mix of campaign imagery focused around the games and our key brand assets. Puma also is encouraging fans and consumers to get involved in the conversation through events we are hosting across the country. We have our Italia-branded Fiat touring the States, where fans can [make and] upload videos to their social channels [through equipment built into the car’s trunk], as well as viewing parties located in four key markets: Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. We have some exciting plans surrounding our key football athlete, Mario Balotelli, [who is featured on the brand’s website] and are rooting for our teams to go far in the competition.
2. What kind of results do you expect to see here in the U.S.?
TM: During each cycle of the World Cup, the popularity of the tournament grows in the U.S. With this growth in popularity we have also seen growth in our business. World Cup 2014 has been particularity great for us due to some very strong product launches [with the brand’s EvoPower boots], Italy’s strength heading into the World Cup and eight of our sponsored teams qualifying.
3. Has the negative publicity surrounding the tournament caused any concerns?
TM: There is so much buzz and excitement around this World Cup due to the fierce team competition, the excitement and vibrancy of the host country and all the innovative product launches we’ve seen. Puma is confident that people are focused on the biggest and most exciting sport in the world and look forward to seeing amazing moments happen in football history.