MIAMI — Within five minutes of touching down in Miami all anyone wanted to talk about was the Miami Grand Prix this weekend. Uber drivers, at the corner store and people on the street, the buzz around Formula 1 coming back to Miami for the second year in a row was palpable. Now Puma — already well known in F1 circles as a partner of Mercedes, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo — is further cementing its place in the global sport by unveiling an exclusive deal with F1 for the 2024 season and beyond.
“For us, it’s a fantastic opportunity,” chief executive officer of Puma Arne Freudt told a trackside crowd of onlookers at the F1 Garage at Rock Stadium that included Sergio Aguero, Skepta, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu. “Puma has been a leading brand in motorsports for decades. And then when you look at the partners with whom we have been together in the last decades, Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes with most of the best drivers. I think it’s clear that Puma has a dominant position in motorsport. And now we have the opportunity to elevate that position and strengthen our position. We could not also imagine a better moment for that partnership.”
Formula 1 has experienced massive growth recently: cumulative TV audiences have reached 1.5 billion viewers, race attendance reached record levels in 2022 and the sport is also growing rapidly on social media platforms.
“First of all, thanks for the trust,” Formula 1 Group chief executive officer and president Stefano Domenicali said, responding to Freudt. “It’s an important moment because in this moment, everyone is looking at us as a reference, as a base to look for the future. And that’s been always the case with Puma. In other roles, for many years it has been always a center of gravity of innovation of technology, the inspiration of a young generation, and this is something that we really share as Formula 1 today. So it’s really a great partnership in two dimensions — sponsorship and licensing — sharing something that we want to offer to our fans, dedicating special lines for them. They’re going to provide something special and you will see the brand Formula 1 through Puma all around the world.”
The freshly inked deal will make Puma the official supplier at Formula 1 races, granting the brand the right to produce F1 branded apparel, footwear and accessories. The Herzogenaurach, Germany-based, multinational activewear company will equip Formula 1 sports officials on track and create Formula 1 fanwear that targets the sport’s different audiences with new lifestyle and motorsport collections.
After a quick break to toast the new partnership, a second panel led by Puma chief branding officer Adam Petrick; Puma director of Women’s Hoops and well known stylist and image maker June Ambrose; Roc Nation’s Emory Jones, and Rwandan and Belgian racing driver and TV presenter Naomi Schiff spoke about the intersection of motorsport and fashion, streetwear culture and the opportunity Puma and F1 have to touch new audiences.
“When I look at Formula 1 I can put them on the board with the Tiffanys of the world,“ Jones said of the global recognition of the sport, echoing the growth the F1 brand possesses.
“I remember back in the ’90s, in the 2000s, motorsport was a thing like we were using the music videos taking inspiration from the culture,“ explained Ambrose, who already designed a hoops collection but is now turning her eye to a motorsport line. “We were recreating it in luxury fabrics, and I started my design career doing these disruptive things. I’m notoriously known for being disruptive.”
Looking forward to what’s to come from Puma and Ambrose, elevation is a key part of the mix, with a focus on a female fan perspective. “There were so many things that didn’t necessarily need to be completely reimagined because they had such a great foundation,“ she said, wearing a few new Puma styles herself. “We have a T-shirt with a crop; there’s only one sleeve.
“That is a way that I can see my point of view and I think it really speaks to a more fashion customer,” she said, blending fashion, sport and lifestyle. “It’s very wearable. Nowadays everything is so gender-neutral. I can see a couple guys in the biker shorts, too.”
Schiff chimed in, “I think the better word for disruption is collaboration.”
She spoke of how the sport has transformed and is reaching a growing female audience, but pointed out, “We haven’t seen a woman behind the wheel and Formula 1 car since 1976. As we start to create female role models for young women, through the likes of W Series Formula 1 Academy, [people will think] there’s a space where our kids, with our young daughters, in a sport like this.”
She pointed to her following on Instagram to highlight the change, “I used to have a balance of 90 percent of males and 10 percent of female audience. I now have 35 percent male and female, 65 percent. So, it’s progress.”
Gender equality in sports is an important conversation today and the panel used the topic to underpin how both the sport and Puma can broaden their audiences. Formula 1 has seen a sharp rise in popularity over the past years and its fan base is becoming younger and more female.
Puma’s subsidiary Stichd, a company for licensed fanwear as well as legwear, bodywear and swimwear, will exclusively operate the fan retail stores during every race weekend. The shops will sell Formula 1 products as well as team replica kit, fanwear, and special edition collections from all 10 teams on the Formula 1 grid and F1 legends. The first Puma x Formula 1 products will be available at Puma stores worldwide, and on Puma.com and Formula1.com.
The celebration didn’t end there, with attendees coming back together for a packed party Thursday night at the Swan in the Miami Design District with DJ sets by Skepta and Kelvin Krash, A$AP Lou and Mas Tiempo stopping by. The interactive party space included games such as whack-a-mole, water gun races, “Need for Speed: Unbound,” slot car racing, along with a cotton candy machine from Twisted Smoke. It kicked off what is sure to be a massive weekend of citywide race-themed events, watch parties and late night celebrations, with all eyes are on Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix.