Puma's Pink And Blue Cleats Make A Bold Play At The World Cup | St. Louis Public Radio

Puma's Pink And Blue Cleats Make A Bold Play At The World Cup

Jun 22, 2014
Originally published on June 22, 2014 5:25 pm

Athletes aren't the only ones battling for supremacy on the World Cup pitch: Shoe brands are fighting for glory, too.

For the most part, it's the fluorescent Nike Vapors versus the Adidas Adizero Battle Pack cleats. But while those brands dominate the soccer market, Kyle Stock of Bloomberg Businessweek says Puma has a counterattack: the mismatched pink and blue soccer cleats called Tricks.

"You see a lot of yellows out there and oranges and reds, but in the blur of the feet, you notice [the Tricks]," Stock tells NPR's Arun Rath.

Some of soccer's biggest players are sporting the blue and pink shoes, like Italy's superstar Mario Balotelli and Yaya Touré from the Ivory Coast.

"Puma is cleverly sneaking in the game here," Stock tells Rath.


Interview Highlights

On the advantages of Tricks' mismatched style

I think it's polarizing. But they have these players in the shoes before they're actually on the market, so it's validated from the outset. [Puma is] committed to this zany color scheme — it's the only one they have. So Adidas will make top-of-the-line cleats in a number of different colors and patterns. Puma's just doing the blue and the pink, which from a supply chain perspective makes doing business much easier.

On Puma as the sportswear underdog

Nike does about $25 billion a year in sales. Adidas does about $19 billion. Puma does about $4 billion. And then in terms of soccer, it's widely considered that Nike and Adidas have about 70 percent of the market and then that remaining 30 percent is split between Puma and a bunch of other brands that are in the space.

On how Puma is handling marketing

Puma has said very publicly that if they advertise during the World Cup, they'll get drowned out. So their strategy is to advertise after the World Cup. A lot of that noise dies down and it's a little bit closer to back-to-school season when kids are going to be bugging their parents for a new pair of cleats.

So you will see Puma ads — you probably won't see them, though, until after the World Cup.

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

An exciting day for U.S. soccer fans, the U.S. team tied with Portugal in a key World Cup match, leaving them very much in the hunt. Players aren't the only ones battling for supremacy on the pitch - shoe brands are too. It's the florescent Nike Vapors versus the Adidas Adizero battle pack cleats. And have you noticed those mismatched pink and blue shoes out of the field? That's Puma's counterattack. They're called the Tricks.

EDGAR SALAZAR: Well, Puma, personally, I think is one my favorite colors so far.

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Edgar Salazar is the store manager at Soccer Central in Torrance, California. He takes a break from watching the game to open up a box.

SALAZAR: Left shoe, turquoise white.

RATH: These are the cheaper versions of the Tricks - the $60 evoSPEED's. He says they aren't selling all that well. But as for the $200 evoPOWERs, the ones you see on TV.

SALAZAR: We are actually sold out of those. We couldn't keep them on the shelf.

RATH: Probably because players like Italy's superstar Mario Balotelli are sporting them on soccer's biggest stage. When he scored his goal against England.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED SOCCER ANNOUNCER: Goal, Italia - Mario. Mario. Mario.

RATH: He was wearing a pair of the blue and pink Tricks. Kyle Stock from Bloomberg BusinessWeek says on a green field, Pumas cleats really pop.

KYLE STOCK: I mean, you see a lot of yellows out there and oranges and reds - but in the blur of the feet, you notice it.

RATH: And these cleats, we should call them, they're called the Tricks - the Puma Tricks.

STOCK: The Tricks. Yeah, evoPOWER Tricks. You know, Adidas has the Adizero F50 - it sounds like a sports car or something. Tricks is a little more approachable.

RATH: Is there a risk in that though? I'm just talking about the mismatched shoes in particular 'cause that could be a goofy thing to try to get people to pass off as hip.

STOCK: Yeah, I think think it's polarizing, but I think they have these players playing in the shoes before they're actually on the market so it's almost validated from the outset. They're committed to this sort of zany color scheme, but it's the only one that you really have. So Adidas will make top-of-the-line cleats in a number of different colors and patterns. And Puma is pretty much just doing the blue and the pink, which from a supply chain perspective makes doing business much easier.

RATH: Obviously, Nike and Adidas are far ahead of Puma. But could you give us a sense of the scale here? How far behind is Puma in terms of, you know, their share of the sportswear market?

STOCK: Nike does about a $25 billion a year in sales. Adidas does about $19 million. Puma does about $4 billion. And then in terms of soccer, it's widely considered that Nike and Adidas have about 70 percent of the soccer market. And then that remaining 30 percent is split between Puma and a bunch of other brands that are in the space.

RATH: You said they've been very savvy with their marketing. Why haven't I seen any Puma Tricks commercials on ESPN?

STOCK: Puma has said very publicly, if we advertise during the World Cup, we'll just get drowned out. So their strategy to advertise after the World Cup - a lot of that noise dies down and then it's a little closer to back-to-school season when kids are going to be bugging their parents for a new pair of cleats. So you will see Puma ads. You probably won't see them, though, until after the World Cup.

RATH: Kyle Stock is an associate editor at Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Kyle, very interesting. Thank you.

STOCK: Thanks very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.