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Friday, April 10, 2009

The Ascending Shoe Company

Nike is the athletic gear giant. Surprisingly, it is not the world's #1 shoe company; that title goes to Asics. adidas rules the Old World, as the (real) football company and the official sponsor of the IAAF.

But if you were to pick the ascendant company, the one who was moving up and fast, who would you pick?

Obviously, it's PUMA. Whether it was brilliant strategy or blind stupid luck that tied them to outfitting the Jamaican Olympic team in general and Usain Bolt in particular is hard to say. But there's more to it, which Scott Bush explains.

The brother-in-law of a good friend is very high up at PUMA. A few years ago they started going for the youth market. My buddy's sixty-something dad asked for some PUMA swag, and the reply from his son-in-law was "we don't want people your age wearing our stuff" or words to that effect.

A few days ago I was in Lady Foot Locker on a shopping trip with my better half, and I noticed the prominently-displayed PUMA casual shoes. They were white with bright green detailing, obviously meant as a Jamaican style, and structured to look exactly like track spikes. In other words, the marketing department is expecting people to want to be like Usain (and marketers, like Homer Simpson, believe "women will like what I tell them to like").

In the midst of so much bad news, this is quite uplifting. A company tieing its fortunes to real live track stars and making hay from it.

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