Sexually Explicit PUMA Ads Are Fake, Company Says
According to a statement from the company, a pair of sexually explicit PUMA ads currently circulating on the Internet are 'unauthorized,' 'appalling' and utterly fake.
UPDATED March 15, 2003 Two bogus images purporting to be fashion ads for PUMA sneakers became the talk of the Internet last week as bloggers posted and reposted them from site to site, hotly debating their authenticity.The images, convincingly emblazoned with the PUMA logo, featured a pair of fully-clothed, sneaker-clad adults, male and female, engaged in an apparent sex act made discomfitingly explicit by traces of what appeared to be a certain, ahem, procreative bodily fluid. An early posting on a blog devoted to advertising gossip claimed the ads were legitimate and had been created for the Brazilian edition of the men's magazine Maxim, but these allegations were soon determined to be false.
The Germany-based sports shoe manufacturer was quick to repudiate the phony ads, issuing a statement attributed in a Wall Street Journal story to PUMA AG spokesperson Lisa Beachy:
It has been brought to our attention that several unauthorized, sexually suggestive advertisements portraying the PUMA brand have been released over the Internet. We are appalled that images like these would be created and distributed under the PUMA name. As a brand, we seek to take a unique perspective toward our advertising in an effort to challenge the boundaries of our industry; however we would never consider using these tactics. We are in the process of researching the circumstances and reserve any legal steps available.
By midweek the company was issuing cease-and-desist notices to sites and Weblogs that had published the images, threatening legal action if they weren't promptly removed. By week's end PUMA's litigious response to the ads had overshadowed the hoax itself as a hot topic on the Internet.
As of this writing, the identity of the prankster who created the fake ads is unknown, as is his or her specific intent. Was it malicious or satirical? In support of the latter interpretation, the images do seem to spoof a current trend towards explicit some say "raunchy" sexual content in fashion advertising, a trend best exemplified in the infamous February 2003 Gucci ad featuring suggestively-posed models and a shocking display of fully exposed if artfully groomed female pubic hair.
Sources and further reading:
PUMA Denies Responsibility For Explicit Ads
Wall Street Journal, 12 March 2003
Close Shave for Gucci Ad
The Guardian, 26 Feb 2003