Author: Kamokgelo Malinga Photo: supplied by Hayden ManuelFrom being a blogger around 2010 to the Sportstyle Marketing Manager at Puma, Hayden Manuel is a creative known amongst the celebrity circles and industry for delivering innovative and fresh campaigns for Puma. His creative flair carried him through the streets of Cape Town where he established himself documenting his life while focusing on fashion and parties. After having worked in a digital agency on social media accounts, his passion for sneakers and music led him to work in the lifestyle and entertainment marketing industry.The Mamelodi Sundowns Digital Magazine crew sat down with Hayden to chat about how he transitioned from blogging to being the Sportstyle Marketing Manager. He gave us insight into the hustle and perseverance required, understanding the importance of brands aligning with modern culture and how young people can potentially breakthrough into the industry to work with big brands.

Hayden Manuel has contributed greatly to cementing the role of South African creatives in the culture and streetwear space. Shoes, music, and fashion are a big part of Manuel’s life, he mentioned how these pop culture elements have contributed to his growth in the industry, “They have been a really big contributor to what I do. I’ve been fortunate enough to turn what I love into a career. Being into fashion and music helped me keep abreast of trends, as well as help me train my brain to analyze what people react to and why they react the way they do.”
Known as a brand that embraces creative expressions in their collaborations, Puma South Africa’s Marketing headliner talked us through the importance of brands aligning with modern culture and how young people looking to work with brands can carve their paths in the creative industries. “It’s Super important for a brand to align with modern culture. A brand’s ability to adapt to the times without losing its core essence and identity is what will help it navigate the choppy waters of the modern world,” mentioned the sneaker head.

Still on creative expression and freedom, Hayden shared that at Puma they often say, “Let the kids play”, when it comes to giving the youth creatives control. He indicated that he thinks for a lot of brands it’s a big hurdle to hand over control, but if it’s ‘mapped out’ correctly, it can create magic.

Being a big part of the creative process during campaigns at Puma, Hayden shared his favorite projects to have worked on thus far. “My two best ones were the Nomzamo collection and the Cotton Fest collections. I loved them because they were both South African collections that we at PUMA managed to create. Rewarding Nomzamo for her loyalty and support over 5 years with her own collection was a culture-shifting moment as it made her the first African woman to have a collection with a major sports brand.”
Hayden added that the Cotton Fest campaign allowed the team to work with the late fashion trailblazer and rapper, Riky Rick. He further shared that the first collection sold out in a day, and for the second drop, they integrated with Mamelodi Sundowns by shooting content for the campaign at Chloorkop.

Puma's extensive dominance remains progressive because the unique needs of its market are addressed by their fundamental understanding of what consumers and the culture desire from the brand. Working with big brands such as Mamelodi Sundowns as one of the club’s sponsors, influencers, media personalities, and rappers is evidence of the outstanding and consistent content we've been seeing on their platforms.

“I think in my world, it’s the ability to open the doors to the culture and to the people you speak to. Letting creatives help you navigate the waters while the brand uses its resources to push the creatives' career,” said Manuel as he shared the key elements that allow a brand to advance. The Puma marketing senior expanded his point and communicated that value exchange is an influential component and that it is important to be present and attend events in the industry and network.
Touching on ambassadors building long-term relationships with brands, Hayden said, “I think it differs from category to category but generally, long-term relationships are the goal. It’s always a beautiful thing to see a brand contribute to an individual’s growth over time. In a world where everything is disposable, long-term relationships stand out. We’ve got a few 5-year-plus relationships at PUMA and every year it goes from strength to strength.”

Hayden spared some advice for young influencers looking to grab the attention of brands, “I always tell young people to focus on their craft and everything will come after that. Become undeniable. Also, the riches are in the niches so if you create like the majority of people in your space, you’ll get lost in the mix. Stand out!”

Owned by Kerring, an international luxury group based in Paris that houses brands including Balenciaga, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, and Yves Saint Laurent, the quality of Puma’s clothes, campaigns, and content is not a shocker. Puma’s own sneakerhead and marketing manager shared his favorite Puma sneaker ‘the Suedes’ which he described as the ‘GOATED’.
GOAT: Being or considered the greatest of all times.Choppy waters: Troublesome, difficult, or uncertain times.