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Wed, Jul 12, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Puma's top executives satisfied with Germany 2006 exposure


Italian soccer players Alessandro del Piero, left, and Fabio Cannavaro run in their Puma training gear during a team training session in Duisburg, Germany, last week. Italy won the World Cup on Sunday, which is expected to boost sales of the German sportswear firm's soccer merchandise.


Forgive the executives at Puma if they are all smiles this week.

It is not often that one of the teams they sponsor captures the World Cup, but Italy's 5-3 win against France on penalties has elevated not just the country, but the company.

And then there is the exposure they got from the 64 games played live on television around the world.

"In 36 out of 64 games, at least one team that was present was wearing Puma," the company's head of corporate communications, Ulf Santjer, said on Monday. "That equates to 55 hours of on-pitch action, which is quite significant to us."

Major sports apparel makers like Puma AG, its fierce cross-town rival Adidas AG and Oregon's Nike Inc, spend millions of dollars to feature their logos prominently on the players who represent countries from Ivory Coast to the US.

Though none has divulged exactly how much they spend, analysts say it is in the millions. What they get in return is exposure, street credibility and a chance to hitch their brand, and fortunes, to stars such as Ronaldinho, Oliver Kahn and Thierry Henry.

"Before the World Cup started, we had some clear goals for ourselves," Santjer said. "We not only reached them, but surpassed our goals for our brand at the World Cup, and we have significantly strengthened our position as one of the top three world leading football brands."

At this year's World Cup, Puma had 12 teams in the tournament, including winner Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland, Switzerland and Paraguay.

It also was the lone sponsor of teams from Africa and the Middle East, with teams from Angola, Ghana, Iran, Ivory Coast, Saudi Arabia, Togo and Tunisia sporting the leaping puma on their uniforms.

Nike was second with eight teams: Australia, Brazil, Croatia, the Netherlands, Mexico, South Korea, the US and fourth-place finisher Portugal.

Adidas counted six, including second-place France and third-place Germany, as well as Argentina, Japan, Spain and Trinidad and Tobago.

Puma expects its sales for this year in soccer-related products to be up 40 percent from last year because of the increased exposure.

Italy jerseys have been flying off Puma's store shelves as the country advanced each round.

"We're all sold out. We've been sold out since last week," said Massimo Granada, 34, a store clerk at a Puma shop in central Rome. "There have been a lot of requests for Italy's shirts, so we should get more in soon."

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