If you’re not up to speed, here’s the news: Puma has reportedly signed (source: The Mirror) a deal to supply Arsenal’s technical clothing from 2014-onward in a deal worth 30m GBP per season – eclipsing that of Liverpool’s current agreement with Warrior, which is the Premier League’s highest. The German sports giant takes over from Nike, who have supplied Arsenal’s kits for the last two decades.
We previously wrote about Adidas rumoured interest in supplying Arsenal kits and how such an agreement would be a ‘win-win’ for both parties. Well, this deal is no different; let’s take a look at some Puma-specific considerations though.
What Puma Gains
Puma is the third biggest name in football after Adidas and Nike. They have a small stable of clubs they sponsor at the national and club levels, but despite boasting some valuable accounts – Italy and Borussia Dortmund their biggest respectively – they lack the sponsorship of a club that is consistently delivering while clad in their brand. Enter Arsenal.
Arsenal’s incredible run of Champions League qualification means the team plays in the elite of Europe’s competition on an annual basis, providing a worldwide platform for their kit sponsors to show off their threads. BVB’s success in the competition this year might have convinced Puma of the value in having a premiere team (deep) in the tournament, leading to a bid that apparently blew away Adidas and any other potential suitors in Arsenal’s bidding war. BVB will be back with Puma in the UCL next season of course, but there are questions being raised about their ability to continue to compete (and qualify subsequently) after the losses of Goetze (confirmed) and Lewandowski (expected) this summer.
The Mirror also brings up in that Puma has a major presence in the African football market. Arsenal have maintained a strong fanbase in the continent for years and Puma can now use their experience and connections within that marketplace (sponsoring Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, others) to push shirt sales of an already well-supported English team. After all, the global appeal of the Premier League isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
Additionally Puma’s player sponsorships include several key figures who ply their trade for Arsenal: Mikel Arteta and Olivier Giroud. There is a significant benefit for suppliers to have sponsored players on their sponsored teams: marketing and branding becomes vastly easier. You don’t have to think back too far to remember Adidas’ vivid campaigns with Gerrard in his Liverpool kit, or Nike’s frequent combination of Rooney/United or even Wilshere/Arsenal. Puma has placed a great emphasis on sponsorship in recent years with the acquisitions of Usain Bolt, Radamel Falcao and Cesc Fabregas, and look set to push that even further by being able to combine some of their top players in ads with their new top team. (By the way, can we sign Falcao now? Please?)
With the “…long-term mission of becoming the most desirable and sustainable sportlifestyle [sic] company”, Puma has replaced its presence in North London (following their loss of Sp*rs to Under Armour in 2012) by signing one of football’s model teams of sustainability and a team that embodies the qualities that Puma wants to make synonymous with its brand.
What Arsenal Gains
The glaringly obvious point is that Arsenal are now getting paid at a level appropriate to their commercial and sporting success. This represents another victory for the club as a business entity and demonstrates that the club is still very sellable despite a lack of trophies in recent time. I’m willing to guarantee that Nike will renew their deal with United for much more than 30m/season, but nevertheless Arsenal will still be able to pocket (preferably re-invest!!!) a healthy sum each season – vital in the coming war that will be the 2013-2014 season (more on that another day).
Puma’s recent track record in kit design is very good. They have created some classy kits for a variety of teams that capture both the history of the club while maintaining a very European, modern look. A quick browse through their current catalogue reveals they haven’t taken liberties with the vintage look of Newcastle, they’ve created a functional-yet-attractive polo style with BVB and Palermo, and their looks for all of their African teams are simply put, cool. As a kit collector, I’m excited to see what Puma brings to the table in 2014: I’m hoping to be very impressed as I look for them to match their financial investment into AFC with an appropriately smashing kit.