Meek Mill, Skylar Diggins, and Tommie Smith are Puma's first #REFORM captains.
While recent times have seen a significant rise in the willingness of brands to be more vocal about their opinions on social matters, Puma quietly set that precedent 50 years ago when they decided to back and partner with Olympic Gold Medal sprinter Tommie Smith, who famously threw up a closed fist as a silent gesture on the stand at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
Now, 50 years later, the brand has once more fastened their stake as a driving force in the area of social responsibility for global brands after announcing its latest platform, #REFORM. Directly inspired by Tommie Smith, #REFORM also recruits Meek Mill and WNBA star Skylar Diggins-Smith as program captains who will take on social issues that mean the most to them.
For Meek, that will be criminal justice reform. In Skylar's case, the All-Star will be tackling gender inequality while Tommie Smith will be championing universal equality for all.
"If we 're saying that we support athletes, and musicians, and the people who wear Puma, we can't pick and choose what things we support as a company," Adam Petrick, Puma's Global Director of Brand and Marketing, tells HNHH."We have a moral obligation to stand with our partners and to fight alongside them for the causes that are important to them. We said, 'How can we put this together and develop a platform that will allow us to do that as efficient and direct as possible?' and that's where #REFORM comes from."
The new program was formally announced on Saturday (October 6th) with all three captains speaking at a press conference in Atlanta about their own experiences, the challenges they face in fighting for change and the resources that they use to continue to educate themselves further.
"I sat down and used my time," Meek said, referring to his time spent researching in prison. "I got deep in the books and got into the effects of how deeply rooted some of these statutes and laws were, keeping people like myself in and out of prison. I'm basically moving off of straight experience. I do a lot of speaking engagements, I meet a lot of powerful people that are interested in reform. So, we connect and they give me advice and I try to stay on the line with them and always learn more as we go. That's how we become stronger."
"I try to surround myself with mentors and positive strong women that inspire me, that think like me," added Skylar Diggins. "I want to inspire the next generation. I know that if I have a daughter and I have a son, they'll never make the same amount of money in my lifetime or theirs. That's the common knowledge that I know. I'm educating myself on the WNBA [...] the business of everything. A lot of my sources come from having these conversations."
October 16th will mark the official 50th anniversary of Tommie Smith's silent gesture and on that day this year, Puma will launch its #THIRDSALUTE movement in which they will challenge others to post an image of themselves with a raised fist and make a donation to charities pursuing universal equality.