German sportswear brand Puma announced an upcoming, 10,000-strong PFP NFT project on February 10 to celebrate its 75th anniversary. The launch plays into current company objectives: It’s investing in building its fashion and web3 communities, and broadening its web3 education in-house.
“For us, web3 is far from a marketing trend,” said Adam Petrick, Puma’s chief brand officer. “We see it as a way to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with our consumers.” The brand has had multiple launches connected to web3 in the last year, including the Black Station website that debuted during NYFW in September. The interactive website is meant to provide consumers with a glimpse at the future of the brand, while bringing web3 to web2 customers.
On March 1, the brand announced Rihanna’s return to the brand via an Instagram post. The post said another Fenty x Puma collaboration was “coming soon.” The music and fashion mogul was temporarily named Puma creative director in 2014, timed with the release of a sell-out sneaker collaboration.
“For a long time, Puma engaged heavily in the fashion community,” said Petrick. “We stepped away from that for a while. Now we’re coming back to it and investing heavily in that area. There is a good overlap between the community interested in fashion and the community interested in innovative technology.” Petrick confirmed that Puma plans to be involved in global fashion week events this September, but declined to elaborate.
For 2022, Puma’s sales increased 19% year-over-year, to €8.47 billion ($10 billion).
The brand has started to showcase how it plans to show up in web3 this year, following the drop in metaverse popularity last year. “If anything, our level of interest in web3 has increased, because we’ve had some success in building a very strong, small core community in the web3 space,” said Petrick, talking about the brand’s sell-out NFT projects and Discord community of 30,000 members. “We’ve worked very hard to cultivate relationships with web3 super customers — that bleeding-edge consumer who is interested in new areas of technology and direct interaction with brands.”
Petrick splits this customer segment into three categories: the finance-knowledgeable fan of crypto, the collector who is interested in art and the customer interested in new technologies.
Puma announced its next NFT project, of 10,000 Super Puma cartoon mascot NFTs, on its website on February 10. The price and mint date are still unknown. The project is among several web3-linked launches that the brand has planned for its 75th anniversary this year. Puma faces tough competition in the PFP space – Nike and RTFKT have taken the majority of the market share of the web3 sneaker community.
“Any NFT project needs an authentic proposition. The purity of RTFKT and Nike is difficult to match, as it’s a partnership with integrity and joined goals,” said Leanne Elliott Young, founder of web3 platform Institute of Digital Fashion, pointing to Nike’s 2021 acquisition of RTFKT. “They are one united platform, [spanning] IRL and URL. For Puma [to be successful], telling a heritage brand story will be integral as that is where a lot of brands [competing on NFTs] hold their worth.”
A “mascot,” a reinterpretation of Puma’s animal logo, has been turned into collectible NFTs for the Super Puma NFT collection. Petrick said the mascot image was pulled from the brand’s archives, in an ode to its 75-year heritage.
Four thousand free NFTs will be airdropped to Puma’s Nitro Collection NFT holders. The Nitro Collection, which launched in August 2022, includes NFTs that act as digital twins to the physical Nfrno and Fastroid sneakers. Unlike the Nitro collection, which focuses on products, the Super Puma collection will prioritize storytelling and community engagement. For example, the launch will feature a comic strip featuring the Puma character.
Puma launched its Discord community in September 2022. “We are blessed with a really strong community and a community management team who allows us to hear the feedback directly from those consumers and engage with them in a very direct and active way,” said Petrick.
“We’ve been able to follow the feedback of our audience and then adjust what we’re doing based on what they’re suggesting,” he said. “That is the best case scenario for any marketer — having direct connectivity with the culture and the community that you’re trying to learn from.”
The brand has been careful not to silo its internal web3 experts, knowing the importance of collaboration. Some of its web3 experts are currently working with its football marketing department to develop strategies for using Roblox to reach a young football audience.
According to Petrick, anyone who is a senior leader in a marketing group for a global brand will benefit from understanding how to with consumers in web3, noting that Discord and Twitter are currently among the best gateways.