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.


Air France unions braced for job cut talks

Updated 03 July 2020

Air France unions braced for job cut talks

  • At least half of the cuts will likely entail voluntary departures and retirement plans

PARIS: The French government on Friday called on Air France to avoid mandatory layoffs as the airline prepared to announce some 7,500 job cuts to cope with a collapse in travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Managers at the airline, part of Air France-KLM Group, are due to meet labor unions in Paris on Friday to detail the redundancy plans affecting some 15 percent of all employees, including pilots, stewards and ground staff.
At least half of the cuts will likely entail voluntary departures and retirement plans, sources familiar with the matter said this week, while 1,000 jobs are likely to be cut at Air France’s “HOP!” airline.
But the prospect of possible compulsory layoffs has raised alarm among workers and the French state, which has granted Air France $7.87 billion in aid to help it survive the pandemic.
“A successful labor reorganization is one where there are no forced departures,” junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Sud Radio on Friday.
Pannier-Runacher said the government’s aid package for the airline, which included state-backed loans, was justified as the carrier was “on the edge,” but called on Air France managers to pursue cutbacks responsibly.
Aircraft maker Airbus’ plans to cut some 15,000 jobs across Europe — with a third of those in France — sparked similar warnings this week, as a wave of restructuring triggered by the virus outbreak begins to hit.
Under CEO Ben Smith, who joined from Air Canada in 2018, Air France-KLM has sought to cut costs, improve French labor relations and overcome governance squabbles between France and the Netherlands, each owners of close to 14 percent of the group.