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Puma runs with a local crowd

In the latest twist on marketing campaigns designed to corral and showcase customer and/or employee pearls of wisdom, Puma has launched a new effort that puts its stores’ roles in their local communities at the center.

Thousands of Puma employees auditioned to be part of the new Puma Employees Only campaign. Seven employees, one from each of seven markets where Puma has a store, were chosen to appear in the brand’s fall advertising, which made its debut mid-August. Another seven will appear later in the year in a holiday execution. The ads showcase new products and these employees’ thoughts on everything from chicken nuggets to dating.

“We needed a way to bring the brand to life, so we decided to let people behind the curtain, meet our employees and have them speak their mind,” said Tara McRae, senior director of marketing for Puma North America, via e-mail. This if the first time Puma has used its own employees in a marketing campaign, she added.

The brand decided “to strengthen that connection” with the brand by letting consumers be a part of the campaign, McRae said. Puma is encouraging consumers to share their thoughts online at Puma’s Facebook page and in the seven stores participating in the campaign, which are located in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco.

Bringing the campaign to the local stores is the best way to give consumers a brand experience and form a connection with them, said McRae. “Most people find it easier to connect with the person that works in the shop around the corner from them and eats in the same restaurants or goes to the same bars that they do instead of some model in another city,” she explained.

In the stores in these markets, shoppers will be able to grab a poster board and marker and write their thoughts. Poster boards will be displayed in the store for a week and participating shoppers will be photographed. Every week, the Puma employee featured in the campaign will choose the best photo and saying in his or her store and the winner will receive a Puma gift card and be featured on Puma’s Facebook page.

The featured employee in each city will also be the focal point of a variety of activities in their stores and around town. These will include local city guides highlighting the employee’s favorite spots around town and scavenger hunts.

The campaign creative was conceptualized by Puma chief marketing officer Antonio Bertone. Creative executions were designed by Droga5, Puma’s brand agency and media planning was lead by Zenithmedia.

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