How Puma is shaking up its media strategy

Puma is rethinking how it buys media so that its buying power is no longer defined just by the amount of ads it buys but by relationships with media owners. Consequently, the advertiser is moving its $120 million media budget Publicis to Havas.

Puma isn’t an “enormous global media buyer,” said its global director for brand and marketing, Adam Petrick, so the buying power of a media agency isn’t as important to the business as it once was. Instead, the advertiser wants ad buyers who have established, long-term ties to media owners who are more likely to find the right content for Puma and maximize its budget in the process.

Havas owner Vivendi also owns Universal Music Group, YouTube rival Dailymotion, video games company Gamesloft and French TV channel and movie producer Canal+ Group. And despite the potential of conflicts of interests an ad buyer who owns the media, content and agency businesses might face, Petrick said he was “satisfied” with how open the agency is prepared to be with what it does with Puma’s money. Having guaranteed program sponsorships on the Canal+ channels that could feed into opportunities with Lady Gaga on Dailymotion, for example, could help the brand stand out.

“Havas is a unique group in that it has lots of partnerships through Vivendi that could be interesting for us, whether that’s through music publishers or content creators,” said Petrick.

Like most global advertisers, Puma has concerns over how much its partners are making on the side, but those suspicions aren’t enough for it to do its media buying internally, said Petrick. The costs of building an internal team don’t chime with the value it would be bring, said Petrick. Programmatic, for example, is a growing part of the business but isn’t a large enough part of a media plan for the business to even consider it.

“We don’t just want to focus on buying power, so there’s a lot of emphasis now on strategic thinking where we look at the processes and personnel management to ensure we get access to that expertise, said Petrick. Performance models like this can backfire as agencies can feel like the rewards aren’t worth the risks, ad executives have previously said. Petrick said he would work with Puma’s ad buyers to develop the right model.

“It means there will be some remuneration in the form of project fees moving forward, while we’re also exploring other ways we can ensure good work is done by our partners.

E-commerce is a big priority for Puma — so much so that executives from its global e-commerce team had some input on the outcome of the brand’s latest media pitch, which doesn’t usually happen. But rather than focus solely on building its own online store, the advertiser’s immediate efforts are focused on using its own audience data to broker better deals with retailers like Footlocker. For a business like Puma, which is reliant on retailers, being a better partner to those sellers is a way to secure better listings.

“We’re excited about what could be achieved if we’re able to take our own geographical data modeling on sales in certain cities or even neighborhoods to retailers with a proposition that we can backup with data — that’s going to make us a better partner to our wholesale partners,” said Petrick.

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