Sneaker brands have been getting in a lot of trouble lately. Adidas got busted for bribing athletes, Nike got called out for stashing cash in offshore tax havens, and now Puma is under fire for defacing centuries-old buildings in India for a promotional video.
As reported by The Guardian, the sportswear brand “irreversibly” damaged important 17th-century Old Delhi architecture with spray-painted murals to promote a 50 year old sneaker style, the Suede Classic.
(So, just to repeat, in order to pay homage to the heritage and longevity of a classic design, Puma painted over hundreds of years of heritage and longevity.)
“Large [colorful] murals were spray-painted on to the facades of several buildings in Old Delhi for the shoe campaign, which the global sportswear company says ‘captures the grit of Indian streets,’” an idea that definitely sounded better in the boardroom.
The commercial has “infuriated conservationists who have accused Puma of defacing the quarter, established by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th-century.”
“‘The whole ethos of Shahjahanabad is its antiquity and you undermine that when you paint such glaring scenes,’ [Rana Safvi, a Mughal historian] said, using the historical name for the area.”
The agency that made the ad does seem to feel bad, pledging to “restore the sites,” but the actual owner of the defaced property genuinely doesn’t give a shit. “This is a private property and the graffiti is making the area look more beautiful. The area is looking better now, it is more lively,” Arun Khandelwal told the Indian Express.
(Puma somehow avoided comment in the story.)
You can read more about it at The Guardian.