Ryan, can you tell us more about your beginnings at PUMA?
I started at PUMA almost 10 years ago as a Global Strategic Planner, and in that role I spent a lot of time looking at how PUMA could continue to grow and expand the brand without diluting our overall desirability. I was also the chief speechwriter for the CEO at the time, Jochen Zeitz, and together, both of those activities around the brand and communications led me down the marketing path.
What is it like being at the top of the marketing structure at PUMA Global and EEMEA? How does the strategy vary and what are the main differences that you’ve found interesting between PUMA global and PUMA regional?
PUMA is a great company and brand to work for, and I’m fortunate enough to have been involved in everything from global brand strategy and campaign development to local-level campaign implementation. In a global role, the focus is on developing a general brand narrative that has a clear point-of-view but is also broad enough to allow for regional adaptation to ensure that our communications are culturally relevant around the world. It can be a tough balance to find, but when we get it right it makes my current regional role a lot easier.
In a regional role, the focus is on the local adaptation of the global strategies as well as the development of regional-specific initiatives. A regional position forces you to develop a deep understanding of what makes different cultures tick, which I find to be incredibly interesting, challenging and, ultimately, rewarding.
PUMA Social and After Hour Athlete – what has been the feedback so far and what are the recent highlights of these projects?
The PUMA Social campaign has been a tremendously successful brand platform for us for the past couple of years. It’s one of those campaigns that found the perfect balance between having a strong, globally-relevant point-of-view, while still allowing for each country around the world to make it feel like their own local campaign. It has a very inspiring message – to live life rather than watch it – that fits well with PUMA’s desire to bring sport into life. But its real strength is in its power as a consumer engagement platform. We’ve opened PUMA Social Clubs around the world, which have served as a sort of ‘stadium’ for After Hours Athletes to play games of ping pong or darts, listen to music, or just hang out. Through these clubs, we’re trying to actually add value to our consumers’ lives, instead of just interrupting them with ads.
Last year in our region we recruited National Teams of After Hours Athletes, who were selected by their peers after submitting videos of their most creative moves in bowling, darts, ping pong, foosball (kicker) or pool (billiards). Five national team members were chosen from each market and were treated like a real athlete, including being given a PUMA contract and appearing in our ads. It was a fun story that gave consumers a unique way to be involved in the campaign.
As a marketer, what online resources do you check on a daily basis?
You mean besides Branding Magazine, of course! Like a lot of marketers, I’m a big fan of Fast Company and consume a lot of content on Twitter. I also enjoy sites like Wired, Business Insider, Mashable, and PSFK. But, as an American sports fan, I start off every day on ESPN.com.
Do you have any message for our readers?
The biggest message or piece of advice (if that’s what I’m being asked for) is to make sure you ‘zoom out’ from your day-to-day tasks as often as possible. Generally the nature of companies (or any organized group of people) is to make simple things more complicated than they should be and obsess over the details. That can be healthy and critical if your speciality is, say, engineering or programming. But, as marketers, our job is to communicate information or an emotion to consumers as simply and efficiently as possible. So, marketers need to make every effort possible to ‘zoom out’ and try to look at things from the perspective of a consumer who has about 15 seconds (if you’re lucky) to pay attention to what you have to say. And when you do that, you typically realize that the things you spend the majority of your time on are things that are invisible to consumers.
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