When PUMA Basketball re-entered the market in 2018 after nearly 20 years, the consumer and basketball landscape had changed dramatically. Consumers today believe the brand belongs to them — not the other way around. They look, act, and think of themselves as influencers. And they use brands as a starting point for their own creativity.
Our objective was to partner with this 18-24 year old consumer to make, subvert, and break the PUMA brand. We invited them into our world, instead of trying to control theirs. We provide them with the tools they need to create, and the platform they need to succeed. This new platform — we call it Give Them Keys. It allows new talent to create new ideas for PUMA Hoops social and jumpstart their own following.
The user-generated content program we established is rooted in our strategy — Give Them The Keys. We collaborate with purpose and meaning with young fans who want to create great content. There are too many gatekeepers in the industry. Too much hungry talent that can’t work with their favorite brands because they’re not established, or because those brands are too precious. So we intentionally seek out unknown, young fans to make something special with us. Most importantly, we give the opportunity only to those with less than 1,000 Followers. They are the grassroots of our brand. Some join us for fun, others because it’s what they want to do with their future. Either way, the keys to our brand are handed over and it’s these diehards who shape the brand in their image.
We partnered with Manual NYC to provide photographers with customized disposable cameras. This approach allows the content to fit with the lo-fi look of PUMA Hoops. We send a disposable camera plus exclusive early access to upcoming product — for both the photographer and their model. We gave them absolute freedom as to what and how they capture content. We don’t mess with their vision or make campaign suggestions.
They simply send back the camera, keep the product, and we process the film. Our selects are posted across PUMA social channels, and we also provide all photos back to our photographers. Wherever we post, we give full credit to everyone involved in the shoot.
We then took the UGC program to the next level, and provided fans with vintage 90s camcorders. We made custom branded cases that included a camcorder, cables, a disposable camera and an instructions card. Again, videographers can capture the product however they want. It’s their world.
Moving into 2021 and beyond, we’re keeping the program fresh and exciting for the fans. While the photography and videography aspect of the program evolves, we will also be exploring new opportunities in music, shoe customization, art and more.
We set out to open up and democratize PUMA, and allow young fans with small followings to create something for an established brand — for an audience they’d never otherwise reach. We gave them the tools to shoot for us, and provided them with a platform to expose their work to millions, across PUMA social channels, NBA athletes, and PR news outlets. We have received 4,000+ entries into this program since inception. Participants got exclusive access to PUMA Hoops events, and met big name NBA athletes. We published a zine that highlighted their work, and distributed it widely to further amplify exposure. In 2020 alone, we made 22 social posts that garnered 1,244,320 Impressions organically. But most importantly, we received countless thank you DMs from the photographers, beat-makers, and models. And non stop praise from other PUMA fans for giving these kids a chance.