JAY-Z is set to become president of PUMA, the German shoe and Apparel Company. The partnership of the two brands indicates that the German-based sneaker company is making its return to basketball.
The company has clarified the role of the music mogul stating that he’s going to be the creative director in-charge of operations in the basketball division. PUMA has also brought onboard some high-profile names such as Zhaire Smith, Deandre Ayton, and Marvin Bagley to be the faces of PUMA Basketball. PUMA’s global director of brand and marketing, Adam Petrick, said, “We’ve been working with Roc Nation for quite some time. They’ve been great partners to us for several years. We’ve done many different deals with many different ambassadors.”
The New York Times reported that, “Before announcing that it would resurrect its basketball division in March, Puma’s last basketball endorsement contract was with Vince Carter, in 1998, before his rookie season with the then-lowly Toronto Raptors. Puma’s basketball brand is most closely associated with Clyde Frazier, the former Knick who last played in 1979 and whose “Clyde” shoes with Puma were the first signature basketball sneakers.”
Petrick, speaking to Complex, said that Jay-Z’s role would be centered around design and branding. Though the details of Jay-Z’s new role haven’t been made very clear yet, many are curious to find out just how hands-on he will become in either representing players or PUMA’s decision making process. A sports attorney, Darren Heitner, said, “Really the question is, is Jay-Z, as the owner of a sports agency who receives at least a portion of the commissions generated by the agents working for him, also then bound to be a fiduciary for the clients his company represents and. . . Is there now a perceived or actual conflict as he and his company are supposed to put his clients’ best interests above his own? If he’s receiving money from Roc Nation’s sports clients and concurrently from a shoe and apparel company — maybe even double-dipping in certain instances — I think that could be a concern.”
In an effort to shed more light on Jay-Z’s role, PUMA’s director of brand and marketing, Petrick said, “We’re making a serious statement about the entry of the category that we want to be a performance brand, but then also very culturally focused. It’s clear that we’re looking at basketball through the lens of culture, and thinking about the fashion of basketball, the music of basketball, all the aspects of culture around basketball as much as the on-court presence that we will have.”
The rumors about a deal between Jay-Z and PUMA began early June 2017, with the release of Hov’s 13th album, 4:44. Rumors of the high-ranking partnership became intense after custom sneakers; honoring 4:44 hit the project.
It’s been more than ten years before PUMA signed a big-name basketball player, Vince Carter. PUMA was conspicuously missing from the recent sneaker wars that included Adidas and Nike. It is very interesting to see what the partnership will bring to the basketball space.