Puma’s Suede Gully Ad Draws Fire From Conservationists

The video features street artists painting over historic buildings in old Delhi.


Global sportswear company Puma’s viral video “Suede Gully,” which saw an artistic collaboration of four rappers, four dance crews, street artists and 36 dancers, has run into trouble with Indian conservation activists.

The video, which taps into the bubbling street culture of India, was launched to sell the new Puma line of shoes called Suede. It includes scenes showing graffitied walls in old Delhi, street shots of Madurai, a painted staircase in Shillong and a local train in Mumbai. The spray-painted walls of old Delhi have invited the fury of conservationists, who have accused the firm of defacing centuries-old historic structures.

“It’s a heritage area. You can’t just go and paint what you like,” Swapna Liddle, the convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), told AFP. “Permanent damage has been done to the carved sandstone, limestone plaster and Lahori bricks. Those who made and approved this advertisement, those who stood by while this was done, are all responsible for this insensitive treatment.”

A Puma spokesperson said that “all necessary permissions were sought,” the Indian Express reported. The murals “capture the grit of Indian streets,” according to Puma’s website.

Conservationists, however, maintain that rules to protect heritage sites were largely ignored. Laws to prevent advertising on historic buildings in Delhi are rarely upheld.

One of the owners of the buildings that was spray-painted in the video said the decision was his. “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.

The ad has been hailed for its visually stunning features by some in the advertising industry. “This is a piece of content, created on the back of unpeeling sub-cultures and marrying that with a distinct brand point of view and then bringing it alive through rich and varied collaborations,” Bikram Bindra, the vice president and strategic planning head, GREY group Delhi, told the afaqs website. “It is edgy, a riot of color and chaos, and very attitudinal,” he added.

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