Puma wants to 'play' basketball again, hopes for top assists from Jay-Z

In partnering with Jay-Z, Puma has signalled its commitment to a familiar strategy: letting big-name celebrities steer its brand.
In partnering with Jay-Z, Puma has signalled its commitment to a familiar strategy: letting big-name celebrities steer its brand.PHOTO: AFP

BOSTON (NYTimes) - Jay-Z has been courted to be the creative director for Puma basketball, in the latest high-profile celebrity partnership for the German sportswear company.

Mr Adam Petrick, Puma's global director of brand and marketing, said Jay-Z, whose company Roc Nation has worked with Puma since 2013, would consult on product creation and marketing strategy.

The rapper has been hired to help drive the company's strategy as it returns to the basketball market after exiting nearly two decades ago.

Puma has had a strong year. Now the brand is looking to distinguish itself from competitors like Nike, which still dominates the sneaker marketplace, by elevating the importance of off-court style in its basketball shoes and apparel.

In partnering with Jay-Z, Puma has signalled its commitment to a familiar strategy: letting big-name celebrities steer its brand.

In 2013, Solange Knowles (the rapper's sister-in-law who was signed to Roc Nation at the time) was made an art director and creative consultant at Puma.

The following year, Rihanna became the brand's creative director.

Two years later, the company boasted that the partnership had contributed to significant growth.

Since then, Puma has collaborated with a range of A-listers, including Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez, The Weeknd and Cara Delevingne, as well as the rappers Big Sean, Nipsey Hussle and Yo Gotti.

Mr Petrick said Puma's relationship with Rihanna helped the company understand how best to work with high-profile collaborators: Give them the ball and get out of the way.