Puma commemorates ‘black power’ salute in US market push

Tommie Smith, centre, and John Carlos make their statement at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. (Getty Images)
Updated 11 October 2018

Puma commemorates ‘black power’ salute in US market push

  • Puma’s #REFORM campaign will see brand ambassadors such as rapper Meek Mill call for people to post images of themselves online with a raised fist
  • Smith never competed again after 1968, received death threats and struggled to make a living for years

BERLIN: Puma is launching a campaign to mark the 50th anniversary of US sprinter Tommie Smith’s black-gloved salute at the 1968 Olympics, shortly after rival Nike scored a hit with an ad featuring a modern-day activist for racial equality.
Nike saw a jump in sales after its advertisement with American footballer Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during the US national anthem at NFL games in 2016 to protest against police shootings of unarmed black men — a gesture that has drawn the ire of President Donald Trump.
Puma’s #REFORM campaign will see brand ambassadors such as rapper Meek Mill call for people to post images of themselves online with a raised fist to commemorate Smith’s silent salute at the Mexico Olympics on Oct. 16, 1968.
The brand is working with rap mogul Jay-Z’s Roc Nation on live and social media events to fight racism and sexism, and will match donations to charities such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), up to $100,000 in total.
Chief Executive Bjorn Gulden said it was a coincidence the anniversary comes soon after the Kaepernick ad, and also shortly after Puma launched its garish orange and black “Clyde Court Disrupt” basketball shoes — marking its return to a sport with close links to the social justice movement.
“We are not trying to make commercial advertising out of this but we think it is good for the brand because it is part of our values,” he told Reuters.
Puma has sponsored Smith for more than 50 years. He took a pair of their shoes onto the platform when he did his salute.
Puma is launching a collection of shoes called “Power Through Peace” on Oct. 16, with the proceeds going to charity.
Gulden said Smith was a trailblazer for other athletes like Kaepernick, who could not find a job for the 2017 season and is still without a team. Smith never competed again after 1968, received death threats and struggled to make a living for years.
“What he did then ... was the bravest thing an athlete has ever done when you think about the consequences,” Gulden said.
Nike sales jumped after the Kaepernick campaign, but its shares fell late last month when that did not feed through to an increase in the company’s full-year forecast.
Both Puma and German rival Adidas have been taking share from Nike in its home market in the last couple of years, helped by the popularity of their retro fashion styles.


China’s tech titans fight for cloud control

Updated 04 July 2020

China’s tech titans fight for cloud control

  • Tencent flexes its muscles in race with arch-rival Alibaba as pandemic opens new business frontiers

HONG KONG: For Chinese cloud services companies, the coronavirus outbreak has become a rainmaker, bringing in new business far and wide as firms shift work online, and authorities develop apps and systems to help contain outbreaks and manage social restrictions.

For Tencent Holdings, in particular, it has also become the perfect time to flex new muscles as it seeks to catch up with Alibaba Group Holding, its arch-rival and the dominant player in the country’s cloud market by far.

Tencent began to display a new level of aggressiveness after positioning its cloud business as a major area of growth in September 2018, and that has only amped up amid the pandemic, employees say.

“The competition with Alibaba is so fierce right now, the sales teams are fighting them for every deal,” said a source in Tencent’s cloud division who was not authorized to speak on the matter and declined to be identified.

This year alone, Tencent has hired more than 3,000 employees for its cloud division. And as China went into lockdown and demand for corporate video bandwidth surged in February, it added 100,000 cloud servers in eight days to support a two-month old product, Tencent Conference — a feat the company says is unprecedented in Chinese cloud computing history.

It has expanded use of cloud servers designed in-house, pledged to speed up construction of a digital industry center in Wuhan to handle cloud and smart city projects in central China and joined a central government initiative to support pandemic-hit small businesses with free cloud services.

The social media and gaming behemoth also announced in May it will invest 500 billion yuan ($70 billion) over five years in technology infrastructure including cloud computing — just weeks after Alibaba said it would invest 200 billion yuan in its cloud infrastructure over three years.

Poshu Yeung, vice president of Tencent’s international business group, notes huge interest in shifting further into the cloud from businesses and for online education.

“We actually see more demands, requests coming in,” he said in an interview in April. “It’s a good wakening call for a lot of businesses.”

During the first quarter, China’s cloud infrastructure services market grew an impressive 67 percent from a year earlier to $3.9 billion, data from research firm Canalys shows.

Alibaba commanded 44.5 percent of the market while Tencent, which started its cloud business in 2013, four years after Alibaba, had just 14 percent. Huawei Technologies also had 14 percent.

“Although Tencent came to the space later than Alibaba, I believe the company is willing to endure a relatively long period of investment cycle for this business, hoping to catch up or one day becoming the No. 1 player in this field,” said Alex Liu, tech analyst at China Renaissance.

Tencent’s cloud division accounted for more than 4.5 percent of its annual revenue last year while Alibaba’s cloud computing division accounted for 8 percent of its overall revenue.

Tencent employees have told Reuters the company is working hard to become more adept in business-to-business sales where products are often designed from the ground up for one client, as well as in government relations.

 Those are areas where Alibaba excels while Tencent’s strength lies more with consumer-centric products and design.

“Tencent has great genes in business-to-consumer, but in business-to-business, we either didn’t have product managers or we just hired folks with a business-to-consumer background so it took a bit of time to convert their thinking,” said a second Tencent source in the company’s cloud business.

Tencent declined to comment on staff observations.

One area where Tencent has gained ground in recent years is government contracts — a relatively small part of the market in revenue terms but one that brings prestige and helps attract private-sector clients.

Underscoring its determination to win tenders, Tencent in 2017 offered to complete a Fujian province government information platform project for 0.01 yuan.

From 2016 to 2017, Alibaba scored 28 cloud-related contracts for government entities, state-owned enterprises, and academic institutions, while Tencent landed just seven, government procurement records show.

But in 2018, they secured 28 each before Alibaba took the lead again last year with 49 compared with Tencent’s 46.