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Black History Month: Puma highlights the beauty of African soccer

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This 2010 Puma commercial was for the World Cup, but it energized the world behind a continent.

Ivory Coast v Portugal: Group G - 2010 FIFA World Cup Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

In 2010, the World Cup was coming to South Africa, and the world was ready to focus on the entire continent as it prepared to host its first tournament. Africa was ready, and in a brilliant promotion, Puma rolled out a series of commercials geared to excite the world about coming to Africa for the World Cup. Puma was the jersey supplier for 4 of the African nations that were competing in the World Cup: Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast. The first commercial was probably its most famous one, and one that resonated globally:

When I first saw this commercial on YouTube, I probably watched it 100 times in a row. It perfectly highlights everything: the passion they have for the game, the hardships they will endure to play the game, whether on the streets, on dirt lots, or on fields. It highlights the rhythm of Africa’s soccer and how, when the game is reduced to its most basic element, we all can relate. Now, commercials can galvanize energy in certain ways, but the question was how to capitalize on it. Puma’s soccer line that came out in 2010 included an African Unity jersey that helped raise funds to promote biodiversity and environmental issues in Africa.

Source: Puma

Each of the 12 Puma-sponsored African teams—Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Mozambique, Togo, Tunisia, Senegal, Morocco, and Namibia—had it designated as their 3rd jersey for 2010 (which was approved by FIFA) and wore it during the African Cup of Nations and friendlies leading up to the World Cup. Not only was it for the individual countries, they had a African unity patch—which showed two arms engaged in a handshake— that allowed people to support an entire continent while wearing it during the World Cup.

It’s rare that a company introduces a commercial that can help unite support for an entire continent, especially one that does not get a lot of attention in soccer or other major issues facing our planet. In 2010, Puma did just that. The commercial resonated with millions of people, and it set the stage for people tuning in to cheer for African teams when they weren’t playing their own. It was brilliant because of its focus. It was important because of its message: “World, the passion for soccer is here. The beauty of soccer is here. And we’re ready to display both for all to see.” It’s excellently portrayed in Puma’s 2010 campaign, in my opinion one of the most unique of its time. And it highlighted the motherland of Africa in an outstandingly beautiful way.