By Frankie Esguerra
Multinational sports brand PUMA recently announced the release of its new Clyde Court #REFORM basketball shoe, which was inspired by Olympian Tommie Smith’s activism for universal equality and award-winning hip-hop artist Meek Mill’s advocacy to reform the U.S. criminal justice system. The shoe released with the launch of the REFORM Alliance, a foundation led by Mill that is dedicated to improving criminal justice reform and eliminating laws and policies that maintain injustice in the U.S. As the exclusive brand partner of the REFORM Alliance, PUMA is donating 100% of the net proceeds from the sale of the Clyde Court #REFORM to the organization and donating $5,000 in the name of each professional athlete who supports the movement by wearing the shoe starting on January 24th.
The Clyde Court #REFORM shoes’ black color represents the American prison system. The red “#Reform” message on the bottom of the shoe represents the blood and sacrifice of those who have fought and continue to fight for justice. The gold accents represent future victories. Because the NBA lifted its restriction on shoe colorways for this season, players like DeMarcus Cousins and Deandre Ayton were able to advocate for the cause as they wear the sneakers in games.
Mill’s foundation was inspired by his own experience with the criminal justice system. In November 2017 he was sentenced to two to four years in prison for popping wheelies on his dirt bike and getting into a fight earlier that year, arrests that violated his probation from a 2008 gun and drug case. His controversial probation violation sent the sports and music worlds into outrage to rally behind the issue of social injustice.
Mill is joined by Kraft Group CEO and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft; Philadelphia 76ers co-owner and Fanatics executive chairman Michael Rubin; Brooklyn Nets co-owner and philanthropic investor Clara Wu Tsai; and entrepreneur, business mogul and PUMA Basketball Creative Director Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter. Together they are working towards removing one million people from the criminal justice system within five years.
The Clyde Court #REFORM basketball shoe continues the mission of PUMA #REFORM, the brand’s four-month-old social justice platform that enables PUMA ambassadors in the sport, music and entertainment worlds to advocate for social justice issues and promote an agenda for change.
Why We Like It:
We appreciate PUMA’s efforts in combating injustice in the U.S. With the brand’s mission to be “forever faster,” its decision to unite people and inspire social change through some of the world’s most influential people—popular figures in the sports, music and entertainment industries—is a genius way of reaching many in a short amount of time, the same way that Meek Mill’s controversial probation violation did. Sport has the ability to unite people and push culture forward in a positive way. PUMA’s generous contribution to the REFORM Alliance aligns with its mission to bring about change “forever faster,” a concept that other global brands can emulate to make a difference through a philanthropic cause that aligns with their brands as well.
How It Can Be Improved:
The cause against social injustice can benefit from increased marketing through a series of short videos of PUMA ambassadors and Reform Alliance founders and supporters explaining their personal stories and reasons for supporting #REFORM. It would not only increase product awareness but also expand the reach and capacity of that reach to potential supporters. As influential as sports, music and entertainment figures are in today’s world, providing them with a platform to speak to the masses about how they feel about the cause and why it’s so important to get involved could be tremendous in promoting Reform Alliance and invoking the social change that the U.S. criminal justice system needs.
Philanthropy Playmakers is a sports philanthropy consulting firm that advises non-profits, athletes and foundations. Our core competencies include fundraising strategy, strategic planning, marketing, and communications at the intersection of sports and philanthropy. To learn more, contact us.