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Hoops and Holograms: Behind Puma’s High-Tech NBA Weekend

Puma made a mark on the NBA All-Star extravaganza last weekend in Chicago with a holographic display feting its newest basketball sneaker.

The German athletic brand tapped Havas Media, digital media network Firefly and 3D hologram technology developer HYPERVSN to get the word out about the new Sky Dreamer basketball shoe, the first endorsed by new ambassador, rapper J.Cole.

The move comes as Puma aims to reinvigorate its presence in the basketball category, which it rejoined last year. Puma Hoops has amassed high-profile talent like Toronto Raptors star Danny Green and Jay-Z, who serves as the division’s creator director.

According to Puma, the Sky Dreamer represents a relaunch of its original ’80s sneaker, the Sky LX. The new shoe’s “heritage-inspired mid-top silhouette” references styling from its predecessors on-court appearances decades ago, the company said.

The decision to employ holograms projecting displays of the throwback Sky Dreamer shoe and a Puma-branded basketball onto the roofs of automobiles parked outside Chicago landmarks was a calculated one. And in what could be a fortuitous turn of events for Puma, ratings for this year’s All-Star Game climbed 8 percent over last year, the NBA reported on Feb. 17, pointing to increased exposure for brands participating in the sporting moment.

“Whether you’re a basketball fan or not, consumers want to engage with the physical world,”  Firefly co-founder and CEO Kaan Gunay said in a statement. “With Puma’s history of world-class sporting apparel and Havas Media’s creativity and emphasis on meaningful media, we’re pushing the boundaries of advertising altogether so that our messages resonate with the audience.”

Puma broadcasted holograms of its newest basketball sneaker during the 2020 NBA All-Star game in February
Puma’s newest basketball sneaker, the Sky Dreamer, debuted on Feb. 13. Puma

Though Puma is trying to expand its share in the basketball category, the sector isn’t seeing much, if any, growth. “Isn’t it fascinating that brands that champion change and innovation keep clinging to the old idea that basketball shoes are a meaningful category?” The NPD Group’s Matt Powell tweeted on Feb. 15 prior to All-Star Weekend.

According to NPD’s recent analysis, basketball footwear no longer has the same industry clout that it once did, making up just 3 percent of the market.

“Larger issue is the amount of endorsement money wasted,” Powell said of the basketball sneaker industry.