Looks like Puma's going Hollywood.
The fashion athletic company said that it's opening a new office dedicated to entertainment marketing in Los Angeles next month. The West Coast operation will be geared to increasing corporate partnerships and product interaction with music and film celebrities. Can we get a "Sexy Back Speedcat"??!!
Anyways, you know what new offices mean! More staff! Puma USA is adding new roles to fill up the cubes the L.A. office (hey, it might be fashion, but it's all work-a-day office aesthetics, or so we have to believe as we stretch beyond the limits of our three walled container). Ryan Babenzien joins as head of U.S. marketing operations. He was formerly the business development and strategy consultant for Oddcast, New York, a company that does web authoring tools or some other such beep-boop-beep. Ryan Ayanian, who previously worked as a consultant for marketing agency Antenna, Ontario, Canada, has been hired as music marketing manager. And last, but not least (though we admit we have no knowledge of how Puma's hierarchy works) Ed Choi, who joined Puma in 2006 following at stint at ID Agency, Manhattan Beach, Calif., has been named entertainment marketing manager.
For Barney Waters, Puma North America's vp-marketing, the new office is a move to go "fish where the fish are," though he did note that the brand has had a smaller marketing presence on the West Coast for some time.
"These moves represent a recommitment to entertainment marketing as a real driver for the Puma brand," Waters told us over email. "We're also evolving our approach, as there are so many more opportunities beyond product placement. Hollywood is a great place to develop relationships and brand driven content, which can help reach the people that may not be spending as much time looking at traditional media outlets."
Puma has been making inroads with celebrities over the past several years, working on design and advertising projects with rapper Ludacris and socialite-heiress Lydia Hearst-Shaw (we're not saying she's 100%, but she's definitely not like the other socialite-heiresses we can think of. Barf Tinsley Mortimer and Paris Hilton!), among others. This month, Puma unveiled its new TV campaign, featuring cute-but-disposable Scottish singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini (pictured, right, smoking something). Nutini's single, "New Shoes," is being used in Puma’s lifestyle campaign. We were wondering how long it would take for that to get snatched up by the commercial world.
In May, the company will begin promotional tie-ins with the film Speed Racer, which will include a signature shoe, product placement in the movie and worldwide in-store promotional campaigns. BTW... Does anyone remember what exactly Speed Racer, the show, was about, you know besides a boy racing, like, fast? We're trying to recall, but just can't seem to do it. Somehow, this didn't seem like a movie idea to us. But 'tevs, we're not filmmakers. But why not a He-Man movie? Hey, we're just sayin'.
No notes on what they'll be spending this year to pull off these tie-ins and tie-ons. In 2006, Puma spent $13 million on advertising in the U.S., excluding online, down 23% from $17 million in 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.