Puma hit with backlash over party “glamourising” council estate drug dealing

  • 11 Apr, 2018

    Puma has come under fire for a party it held last week that critics say “glamourised” council estate drug dealing.

    The clothing company, in partnership with JD Sports and marketing agency Urban Nerds, hosted a ‘House Of Hustle’ party in an abandoned Soho townhouse last Thursday (April 5), the same night that saw six teenagers stabbed in four separate knife attacks across London.

    According to reports, guests were sent Puma shoe boxes full of fake £50 notes, burner phones and business cards that instructed invitees to “turn on the trap line”.

    When switched on, the phones showed a message that read: “Yo G what u sayin today? Pass tru the House of Hustle.”

    The party itself featured DJ sets, drill acts, graffiti covering the walls, blacked-up windows and mattresses on the floor.

    ????LONDON ???? Join us, @puma and some very special guests including @Mhuncho_1 , @drilloski_hs, @HeadieOne, @SianAnderson for #HouseofHustle 7-11pm tomorrow at a secret location.

    Sign up here for the chance to win tickets: http://t.co/G68Mmk7U5Q#runthestreets pic.twitter.com/LBCxWiRnBv

    — JD (@JDOfficial) April 4, 2018

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    Just so I’m clear! …[email protected] gives out fake #trapphones strapped to trainers whilst promoting #houseofhustle and #runthestreets ….. dear PR team … y’all promoting selling drugs cause if so this is perfect… ??????????????????? PLEASE correct me if I’m wrong ? pic.twitter.com/97K9VbQnVM

    — Dani J (@ohitsDaniJ) April 7, 2018

    Brilliant and articulate letter from London based social worker Amber Gilbert Coutts on why #puma #jdsports & #urbannerds got it so wrong with their #houseofhustle party 'inspired' by council estate drug dealing http://t.co/Kiy8hxYQhL pic.twitter.com/efHfZGZwAm

    — Nadine Spencer (@NadineKSpencer) April 11, 2018

    Puma threw a ‘council estate drug dealing’ inspired party http://t.co/QopkM0bRYu pic.twitter.com/XhDSQTIjHO

    — What's New 2Day (@FrzSolutions) April 11, 2018

    Puma has been hit with a backlash over the party, with London-based social worker Amber Gilbert Coutts writing an open letter to the company, criticising it for “glamourising” drug dealing and calling the party “careless exploitation” that “trivialises the horrendous lived experiences of many of the young people you shamelessly attempted to imitate”.

    Coutts said the party’s conception was “far from cool,” adding: “adolescent drug dealing so often results in violence, exacerbated deprivation, and community pain”.

    “As someone who has lived through the things they are glamourising here I rly appreciate this post which is something I could have never articulated. It’s grim to see my childhood used as a marketing tool when living through it was traumatic and still haunts myself and my family today!”

    See the open letter in full below.

    We can't expect corporations designed for the pursuit of profit to morally care about the impacts they have on communities both locally and globally, but if they want credibility and if they want our money then they MUST take accountability for every one of their poor choices . #houseofhustle #puma #jdsports #urbannerd @puma

    A post shared by Amber. (@ozmosisjones) on Apr 8, 2018 at 7:20am PDT

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    Jessica O’Neill, volunteer co-ordinator at Mothers Against Violence, said: “Puma should be looking at how they can invest in young people rather than making money off them and also investing money in these areas in order to reduce the murders of young people on our streets.”

    Some have called for a boycott of the brand. The musician Kindness wrote: “This is insane. @puma – not only how to lose the good will & trust of the people that buy your products, but also how to get yourself boycotted too.”

    Puma has not yet responded to the criticism.