Kylie Jenner Signs with Puma, Still Allowed to Wear Adidas

It seems that Puma is dedicated to co-opting some of the market share that sportswear giants Nike and adidas currently occupy, and it is using big name celebrities (in addition to its line up of endorsed sports stars) to do it. After announcing its now-ongoing collaboration with Rihanna in late 2014, the German sportswear brand, which is owned by Kering (parent also to Gucci, YSL, Balenciaga, and Bottega Veneta, amongst others), has signed reality television star Kylie Jenner to its roster. Puma, which along with rival, adidas, is headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Germany, has confirmed that 18-year-old Jenner will front one of its Spring/Summer 2016 campaigns.

Adam Petrick, Global Director of Brand and Marketing for Puma, confirmed the partnership on Thursday, which is reportedly worth a million dollars, saying: "I am pleased and excited to be able to confirm that Puma is indeed working with Kylie Jenner. Kylie will be featured in the brand’s Spring/Summer women’s training campaign launching in April 2016. Kylie represents a fresh and exciting new era for fashion and we couldn’t think of a more fitting and influential female to headline this campaign for Puma.”

No More Adidas for Kylie? Not So Fast.

More interesting than the partnership, itself, is what this means for Jenner given her family’s significant affiliation with adidas. As you likely know, Jenner’s brother-in-law, Kanye West, has an ongoing deal with adidas, and the entire family frequently steps out in sneakers from the Yeezy for adidas collection.

Considering that deals, such as the one Kylie just signed, commonly include a clause requiring the famous face to refrain from wearing garments and accessories from competitor brands, this could be problematic. For instance, you may recall that upon appearing in Superga's Spring/Summer 2013 ad campaign, singer Rita Ora agreed to exclusively wear Superga sneakers for a given period of time, as specified in the parties' contracts, in exchange for compensation. Superga ended up filing suit against Ora when she stepped out in Converse sneakers during the Superga exclusivity period. GL Dameck, Superga's parent company, replaced Ora with model Suki Waterhouse and filed a lawsuit against the 23-year old, alleging that the Converse incident was a breach of contract and withholding the third and fourth installments of the singer’s $250,000+ contract.

So, in addition to working to carefully match a brand with a celebrity to ensure that an authentic message is set forth as a result of the campaign (and thus, that the campaigns leads to sales!), some brands also value exclusivity. A deal with an exclusivity provision in place, while more expensive than one that is not exclusive in nature, is certainly preferable from a branding perspective. By tapping a famous face to front your brand, you essentially rely on that individual to serve as a constant reminder to consumers of the brand when he/she is actually wearing one of the products and even when he/she isn’t. With this in mind, having the endorsing celebrity photographed wearing a competitive product erodes the investment a brand makes in that individual as a symbol of the brand. And in many cases, as we saw with Ora, such a breach will be a deal-breaker. 

Not surprisingly, exclusivity seems to be something that Puma values, at least to a certain extent. Since signing her deal with the sportswear giant, singer Rihanna, for instance, has only been photographed wearing sneakers that are made by Puma.

However, it seems that Jenner got some special treatment in terms of her deal, as she will be permitted to wear adidas during the term of her contract with Puma. This is likely due to some negotiating on the part of her power lawyers and due to the fact that Jenner simply has a ton of bargaining power because of her status as an enormously visible social media phenomenon. As a result, Puma has allegedly agreed to let her wear adidas (potentially just Yeezy items) in addition to Puma during her six-month contract with the brand. Such a contract disclaimer will likely affect how much Jenner is compensated for the campaign, but considering that the 6-month deal is reportedly worth a million dollars and does not affect Jenner’s existing deal with PacSun or other existing endorsements, it sounds like she got quite the preferable deal.