How to put your foot in it with a cam­paign to sell train­ers

The Observer - - Comment & Analysis -

With­out the bril­liantly fu­ri­ous open let­ter that so­cial worker Am­ber Gil­bert Coutts posted on In­sta­gram, Puma’s “House of Hus­tle” party might have sim­ply faded into one of any num­ber of sim­i­lar nights. The pro­mo­tional event, thrown in part­ner­ship with JD Sports and mar­ket­ing agency Ur­ban Nerds, took place in Soho, cen­tral Lon­don, last week and has been widely crit­i­cised not only for glam­or­is­ing drug deal­ing, but for crude class tourism too. “It is sadly noth­ing new for sports brands such as your­selves to at­tach your logo to the lived ex­pe­ri­ences of promi­nently work­ing-class peo­ple of colour,” wrote Gil­bert Coutts, point­ing out that, among the event’s many flaws, the in­crease in vi­o­lent crime in the cap­i­tal this year made its choice of “theme” par­tic­u­larly ou­tra­geous.

Ac­cord­ing to Dazed mag­a­zine, in­vi­tees to the House of Hus­tle were sent a Puma shoe­box filled with fake £50 notes and a busi­ness card that in­structed them to “turn on the trap line” – a burner phone that, when switched on, came with the mes­sage: “Yo G what u sayin to­day? Pass tru the House of Hus­tle.” The party had “blacked-out win­dows and dirty mat­tresses strewn on the floor”, said the re­port, be­cause noth­ing says “buy some train­ers” like ad­dic­tion, mis­ery and squalor.

Puma even­tu­ally is­sued a state­ment say­ing any con­no­ta­tions of il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity were un­in­ten­tional. “We never in­tended as­so­ci­a­tions with drug us­age, drug cul­ture or drug deal­ing in any way and we re­gret any mis­un­der­stand­ings in this re­spect,” it read, apol­o­gis­ing for any of­fence caused, though strangely leav­ing out an ex­pla­na­tion of the le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties those burner phones were sup­posed to be em­u­lat­ing. Brands co-opt­ing youth cul­ture is as old as time, but do­ing so in such a crass way is quite an achieve­ment and may be one of the worst pro­mo­tional moves since Pepsi tried to fix in­sti­tu­tional racism with a Kar­dashian and a fizzy drink.

Puma brand pro­mo­tion back­fired.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.