Puma and sailing sponsorship

(L-R) Ken Read, Antonio Bertone and Jochen Zeitz, Chairman and CEO of PUMA.
Photo: David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race
(L-R) Ken Read, Antonio Bertone and Jochen Zeitz, Chairman and CEO of PUMA.
Chief Marketing Officer Antonio Bertone explains the big cat's return to the Volvo Ocean Race
Following their second place behind Ericsson 4 in the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race, so Puma has recently announced its second participation in the fully crewed round the world race, once again supporting Ken Read’s US team. ‘Why have they returned?’ we wondered. Keen to find out this and why consumer brands like Puma have got into our sport, we had the opportunity to talk to the company's Chief Marketing Officer Antonio Bertone, who operates out of their US corporate headquarters in Boston. Puma is what they call a ‘sportlifestyle’ company, a vision of corporate scarlet, well known for its range of sports footwear, clothes and accessories (footwear representing more than 50% of its business). Its 2009 financial report shows that the company turnover was a tidy 2.621 billion Euros, this having quadrupled over the previous decade. Perhaps most impressive though is its gross profit that for every year since 2004 has been just over 50% of turnover... According to official data, the company distributes its products in more than 120 countries, employs more than 9,000 people and has headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Boston, London and Hong Kong. One of the Puma's largest shareholders is PPR, which owns Gucci. The history of the Puma is noteworthy - stemming back to the 1920s and the two Dassler brothers, Adolf and Rudolf. Their shoe company made one of their first sponsorships (and set them up) when they provided Jesse Owens with running spikes for the 1936 Olympic Games, where he won four gold medals. Famously in 1948 the brothers split after a prolonged feud, with Adolf Dassler ('Adi') going off to form one company as his brother Rudolf set up another. And so, Adidas and Puma (respectively) were born. Today Puma’s sports sponsorship includes a huge number of national football teams, including Italy, along with major