While Puma once had the most sought-after name in tennis – Serena Williams – the brand has recently all but disappeared from the tennis court. That doesn’t mean the brand has floundered into oblivion, however, as the company has launched a nationwide ad campaign that doesn’t feature any big-name athletes, but instead, fresh-faced (and oh-so-trendy) retail workers in what they’re calling “Employees Only“.
The campaign is plastered along subway stations all over New York City (above), and includes other sites nationwide. And while the brand may not be a Serena seller anymore, they may have the world’s most famous athlete on their side: Usain Bolt.
Bolt has pushed Puma back to its running roots, as the company once sponsored Olympic medalists throughout the 20th century. Their soccer presence has always been solid, anchored by the legendary Pele, and worn still today by clubs and players all over the world.
Long a running and soccer brand, Puma delved into tennis when Guillermo Vilas started wearing the brand in the ’70s. The Argentinian won three slams decked out in Puma gear, though the line never got much tennis notice outside of the big man from down south.
As recently as 2006, the company had Vilas Puma retro shoes, though they aren’t available on the web site anymore. (Can anyone verify they still sell the shoe?!?).
You may recall Puma and its infamous catsuit design they did for Serena at the 2002 Open. But as it turns out, the brand was leaving the sport with a bang when the younger Williams sister signed a contract with Nike the following year.
Can Puma push its way back into tennis? For now, we’re only left of sweet (and skin-tight) memories of the catsuit and the brand’s short-lived relationship with the sport of tennis.
Catsuit reminiscing? Check out the jump.
(puma picture by tsf; catsuit picture via serenaforever.com)
(correction made 9/23)