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Fake Puma Ad Mystery Solved
Status: Update about advertising hoax
image Remember this racy PUMA ad? It was circulating around the internet back in early 2003. The rumor was that it had appeared in the Brazilian version of Maxim, but PUMA officials soon denied this, and further stated that their company was not responsible for it in any way. PUMA then threatened to sue anyone who posted it. (No one ever got sued.) This led many bloggers to speculate that PUMA was, in fact, the creator of it, and had spread it as a subviral advertisement (i.e. a viral ad secretly produced by a company, which the company denies any knowledge of... allowing them to experiment with more controversial forms of marketing). But despite this speculation, the question of who created the image remained unresolved, until now. Peter Kim, former PUMA International Marketing Manager, has disclosed the inside story on his blog:

What really happened - a small Eastern European agency affiliated with Saatchi & Saatchi created the ads on spec, trying to win business with a PUMA subsidiary. They got nothing and emailed the ads to friends; from that point it snowballed. As you can guess, when the PUMA powers-that-be decided to get all corporate on the blogosphere, the whole thing exploded. Poor Pete M.'s (PUMA GC in the US) email inbox exploded with junk after that, with his name being on the cease and desist. No "Brazilian Maxim", no evil master plan (they're real but we'll say they're fake), but online store sales were up like CRAZY for a couple of weeks. Too bad we didn't even have the shoes in the ads in stock!

This is bad news for me, because I describe the fake PUMA ad in Hippo Eats Dwarf, but I leave the story about it open ended, stating that no one knows (or is admitting) who created it. Unfortunately it's too late to revise what I wrote because the book is already rolling off the presses. I guess that's the danger of writing about recent events. You risk getting outdated. (via Adrants)
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 31, 2006
Comments (11)
More from the Hoax Museum Archives:
Just a thought Alex, you could put a little supplementary chapter on the website to update all the stories that have been concluded since the book went to the presses.
Posted by Andrew Nixon  on  Wed Feb 01, 2006  at  01:32 AM
I don't see why you accept Kim's story without question. It's interesting that Saatchi & Saatchi is in a position to deny responsibility too.

By the way, what is on the girl's thigh? 😉
Posted by elguapo  on  Wed Feb 01, 2006  at  05:11 AM
Apparently in the UK there are a series of anti-litter ads with a very similar picture. The tag line in "While you're down there...". (From Lynne Truss' book 'Talk to the Hand'.)

If this idea isn't too controversial for a (government?) anti-litter campaign, I don't see why a shoe company wouldn't use it!
Posted by Fawkes  on  Wed Feb 01, 2006  at  08:17 AM
Good idea, Andrew. I think I'll do that.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Feb 01, 2006  at  09:34 AM
Course, the real mystery is who the girl is?

Posted by nekkidben  on  Thu Aug 24, 2006  at  02:52 AM
It's not fake. I have seen this advert in a very popular gloss magazine in Croatia. It's a kind of FHM type magazine for young male audience (you know... sexy chicks, cheeky and dirty humour, gadgets, cars, music, games, movies etc.)
Posted by srdjan  on  Thu Aug 24, 2006  at  03:02 AM
If you'll recall there were two of these images circulating on the web at the time. Srdjan, if you have photos of the magazine with the advert in it those would be worth posting online, though the spec ads could have made their way into print through shady means.
Posted by Cap'n Drew  on  Thu Aug 24, 2006  at  05:31 AM
I heard you interviewed on the "Cultureshocks" radio show months ago. Do you have a new edition coming out?
Posted by Halfreed  on  Thu Aug 24, 2006  at  06:49 AM
I've spoken to a friend that works in advertising, she says that it never was published.

I'm pretty damn sure I've seen it. A friend of mine has a whole collection of this mag. Next time I'm round his place I'll go through his collection and try to find it.

Although now I started thinking I may have to retract my previous claim 😊

But let me check first....
Posted by srdjan  on  Fri Aug 25, 2006  at  02:16 AM
this is stupid
Posted by me  on  Sun Jan 27, 2008  at  11:33 AM
Does it not surprise anyone that most people accepted this as a real advert. Does this not suggest that we are becomming desensitised by advertising, or is it that we are expecting advertisers to carry on trying to shock us in new and unexpected ways?
Posted by Bennett_jck  on  Thu Jan 22, 2009  at  08:07 AM
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