Puma made a splash Tuesday when it announced it was re-entering the basketball sneaker market for the first time in 20 years with the help of Jay-Z. A number of outlets reported the rapper-executive’s role would be president of basketball operations, based off the comments of a company spokesman, but Puma on Wednesday clarified Jay-Z’s new position.
“I can confirm that according to his deal with Puma, Jay-Z’s official designation is creative director,” Adam Petrick, global director of marketing and brand for Puma, told ESPN. “I referred to him [earlier] today by an informal designation.”
Jay-Z’s role will involve him working on art direction for Puma’s shoes, as well as shaping the general concept of the revived basketball division. Jay-Z will not play a part in selecting individual players for sponsorship deals, according to Billboard.
Petrick said Puma had experience working with the rapper as part of his own company, Roc Nation, an entertainment venture boasting a record label, talent agency, and film and music production business. Puma reached out to Jay-Z with this latest opportunity, and Jay-Z decided it “was something he wanted to be a part of,” Petrick told Complex.
“We’re making a serious statement about the entry of the category, that we want to be a performance brand, but then also very culturally focused,” Petrick added. “It’s clear that we’re looking at basketball through the lens of culture, and thinking about the fashion of basketball, the music of basketball, all the aspects of culture around basketball as much as the on court presence that we will have.”
Ahead of the NBA Draft on Thursday, Puma signed projected first-round picks Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, and Zhaire Smith to multi-year deals for footwear and apparel endorsements. The last signing for Puma? Vince Carter, in 1998, who penned a 10-year deal that fell apart after just two seasons.