Usain Bolt Puma World Record

When it comes to the battle of sports brands during the 2008 Summer Olympics, there is no question that Nike, Adidas, and China’s own Li Ning have been the dominant players. But as the games are quickly coming to a close, I’m wondering if a brand hasn’t slipped in under the radar with the speed of a Bolt of lightning.

Puma entered the Olympic scene with minimal investment that hadn’t gone much farther than outfitting a couple of the competing countries (Jamaican, Swedish, and Moroccan teams) and endorsing select, athletes from those countries.

Early last week, Landor’s Ray Ally shed light on Puma’s interesting use of the traditional Peking Opera masks in their promotions. At the time, it looked like that might have been all that Puma had up their sleeve.

Usain Bolt Peking Opera(Photo via: Landor)

But that was a week before the whole world knew that guy featured in the Peking Opera mask promos would perform the unbelievable feat of running a 9.69 100m (probably faster if he had decided to keep the celebrating for the race). Nor did they know that he would run a 19.30 200m, breaking both the world records for both the 100 and 200 meter races and becoming the first person since Carl Lewis to sweep both events.

Usain Bolt Running PumaMore importantly, that was before anyone knew the personality and oozing ego (sometimes treading on the fine line between confidence and outright cockiness) that Bolt would bring to the track. Or how the cameras at this world televised event would be entranced by his contagious personality.

Puma didn’t know everything that Bolt would accomplish, but I’m certain they knew he would be a top competitor and were betting on his success at the games. This is evident by Puma’s recent release of a whole section of their website dedicated to Bolt, with videos and even a game, called Lace ’em up, where you can race Bolt with your geeky fast keyboard fingers (the best I can get is 10.06).

Puma may not have had a superstar athlete to promote when the games began, but they have one now.