Just How Big Is Neymar's Signing For PUMA?

15 September 2020
Sports, Football, Puma, Neymar
Images: Courtesy of Puma
At a pivotal stage in PUMA's revival, the Brazilian soccer star is the German brand's most important get yet

It's fair to say that PUMA have a roster of athletes and endorsees that 99.9% of companies worldwide would kill for. They have the world's fastest man in Usain Bolt. They have a roster of the biggest footballers in the game, one of hip-hop's most prolific stars in J. Cole, F1 megastar Lewis Hamilton, and with the growing success of their PUMA Basketball brand, a slowly but steadily increasing presence in the US's most sport for selling sneakers.

Even so though, you could probably argue that, up until recent times at least, PUMA's mission to reach the same heights of pop culture penetration of their two biggest rivals, Nike and Adidas, still has a long way to go. It's tough when you're coming up against that other 0.1%, after all.

But now, PUMA have capped off what might be their biggest ever athlete acquisition, wrestling Brazilian soccer phenom Neymar Jr. away from Nike on a multi-year endorsement deal. At first glance, it's a big signing, but just another athlete sponsorship deal. But to the German sportswear brand, it's a hell of a lot more.

On numbers alone, it's easy to see why PUMA decided to pounce when Neymar decided to opt-out of his Nike endorsement deal. The 4th highest-paid athlete in the world according to Forbes, he has 244 million followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, with a profile only really overshadowed in the modern game by its two biggest titans, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Ronaldo alone generated $28 million USD in value for the brands who sponsor him through social media last year.

Neymar has been centre stage not only as his team, PSG, have established themselves as a European footballing super-power, but also became one of the world's most fashionable football clubs through innovative collaborations with brands like Jordan. The Brazilian established himself as perhaps the most appealing youth prospect in the game during this time, with a reputation for style and flair that neither Ronaldo nor Messi can really match.

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Perhaps more importantly, however, Neymar's arrival at PUMA is a masterstroke in re-establishing the brand in a South American market where they were once dominant. Neymar's signing, and subsequent endorsement of their KING boot line, will put him front and centre in the revival of a product line previously endorsed by the likes of Pele, Eusébio and Diego Maradona, adding the 26-year-old's name to a list that will stoke the sentiment of millions of passionate Brazilian soccer fans, for whom Neymar is a national hero.

“These were the KINGs of the pitch, the KINGs of my sport. I wish to bring back the legacy that those athletes created on the pitch. They each played in PUMA, and each of them created their magic in The KING," said Neymar in a statement.

"Every time I lace my boots, my KING boots, I will do anything to achieve all of my dreams to honor my name and that of all those great ones who wore the KING before me. This will be my PUMA history. The KING is back!”

Via GQ Australia