These days, you don’t even need to be an athlete to landa sneaker deal.You just needto be a celebrity willing to endorse the f*ck out of a brand.
From a marketing perspective, it’s genius. Brands have finally figured out that paying influencers to rep their sh*t, instead of waiting around for the perfect athlete, is the perfect way to connect with consumers.
When Puma signed Rihanna as creative director back in 2014 in a $1 million, multi-year contract, the company knew she would help drive sales, but her influence has exceeded all expectations.
According to Bloomberg Business, her collaboration with thebrand helped earn$975 millionlast quarter alone, a 17.1 percent increase in average sales.
Puma CEO Bjoern Gulden said Rihanna “…can sell sneakers and Puma is onto something here which [they]haven’t seen yet in the women’s area.”
Puma also recentlysigned Kylie Jenner to a new shoe deal in hopes forsimilarsuccess.
Kylie isn’t alone in the sneaker collaboration game, however; in addition to Rihanna, Kyliejoins many celebrities who are already sitting pretty on top of such money-making endorsement deals.
Kanye West undoubtedly has the most poppin’ sneaker collab with Adidas. The rapper-producersaid goodbye to Nike after the brand refused to give him royalties on his sneaker sales.
In fact, Kanyeseemingly hates all other brands so much, he even vetoed Kylie’s decision to join Puma.
During negotiations with Nike, Kanyeargued,
I need royalties. Its not even like I have a joint venture. At least give me some royalties. Michael Jordan has 5 percent and that business is $2 billion. He makes a 100 million dollars a year off of 5 percent royalties.
Nike actually offeredhim a pretty good answer as to why he wouldn’t receiveroyalties, but, of course, Kanye had the most Kanye response.
Nike told me, We cant give you royalties because youre not a professional athlete. I told them, I go to the Garden and play one-on-no one. Im a performance athlete.’
He then signed with Adidas in a deal reportedly worth $10 million. The rest is history.
Kanye’s endorsementof the brand has catapulted it into a new eraof relevance, making him the perfect example of howinfluencers have the leveragetocompletely revamp a brand’s identity.
Need proof? Graphic designer Dan Freebairn pointed out that Adidas was the most-liked sneaker brand on Instagram in 2015, and the competition wasn’t even close.