Noel D'souza
Apr 03, 2023

I trained with Puma boots for three months before signing the endorsement deal: Sunil Chhetri

Sunil Chhetri chats with Campaign India about his evolving relationship with Puma, why the campaign #LetThereBeSport resonates with his core values and how he chooses brands to endorse

I trained with Puma boots for three months before signing the endorsement deal: Sunil Chhetri

Puma recently rolled out a campaign #LetThereBeSport featuring Sunil Chhetri, captain, Bengaluru FC and the Indian national football team, alongside Virat Kohli, MC Mary Kom, Avani Lekhara and Bhawani Devi. 


Through the campaign conceptualised by Ogilvy, the brand aims to create awareness amongst educationalists to ensure sports isn't just an extracurricular activity but is given due importance. 


We caught up with Chhetri at Puma's #LetThereBeSport conclave, held in Bengaluru on 31 March, to understand what boxes he ticks while selecting a brand endorsement deal, thoughts on the latest campaign #LetThereBeSport and more...


Edited excerpts: 


Your association with Puma came about in 2019. What do you think makes you a good fit for the brand? How has this brand relationship evolved over the years?


Over the past four years, I have enjoyed my association with Puma. More than anything transactional, this brand-endorser relationship has been wholesome.  


Puma has looked after me and made me a part of the family which has made this union pretty comfortable. I am enjoying my stint here so far.


The first thing I did before signing up with Puma is train with their football boots for three months. I needed to know if it was suitable for me. It is a prime factor on my end while signing up with a brand because those are the boots I will be playing with consistently. 


The brand was very patient throughout the experimental phase. They also told me how they see me as a brand, why they want to onboard me and what their brand values stand for. 


Puma also shared how I can promote football and gain momentum for the sport through the brand. All these elements suited what I wanted to associate with and worked well for me as well as the brand. 


Once I knew that I was comfortable and the brand suited my needs on and off the field, all other parts fell into place. 


Puma has been actively involved in the promotion of football in India. Has the sport seen an increase in visibility and reach among Indian consumers?


The audience's visibility has been brilliant with Puma's amplification. Now, we can see the reach of the sport through professional players and also the grassroot level players.


The brand and I shared a common goal of scaling football's prominence in the country at the onset of our partnership. So, now to see that this initiative was not just all talk brings me a lot of happiness. 


Players from the top and grassroot levels are signed by Puma and the brand is doing its best to help develop the sport amongst the youth in the country. 


Can you tell us about the recent Puma campaign '#LetThereBeSport' that you are featured in and what was your experience like working with the brand on this project?


I love the messaging of this campaign. It was high time this memo promoting sports right at the base level and giving it due prominence goes out to a large audience.


It is pivotal for youngsters to develop a passion for sports, and the film highlights how educational institutes and society at large should make sports a big slice of the schooling system. 


I know for a fact that this campaign is a triumph and only good things will come out of this. I hope that the essence of the cause reaches everyone in the country, especially the ones who are instrumental in bringing about change.


This campaign is close to my heart. The initiative #LetThereBeSport goes beyond me and Puma. It is high time we change the way we think and inculcate the value of sports in the Indian schooling system.


How do you decide which brands to work with, and what are some of the key factors that you consider when choosing a brand to endorse?


For me, it's all about comfort and what suits me while playing on the field. 


Your favourite football-related ad campaign


Many come to mind. But there's one campaign that is etched in my mind, a Pepsi ad film featuring David Beckham and Roberto Carlos. It is the first time I saw these sporting heroes come together which was a delight. 

Campaign India

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