By the Staff of NYSportsJournalism.com
December 17, 2014: From humble beginnings spurred on by Kevin Plank's desire to sweat less while playing football and working out at the University of Maryland, Under Armour has grown from a company offering wicked T-shirts to a multi-category destination.
It now resides in the tony $3 billion revenue neighborhood, and in October said that it had achieved its 18th consecutive quarter of more than 20% sales growth.
So when Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour talks, people listen.
And what he was talking about in July during an event in New York was a self-proclaimed "Womanifesto" to support what Under Armour called the biggest global marketing campaign in company history, "I Will What I Want," in conjunction with lead agency Droga5, to support its women's division.
"A few years ago, our women's lines represented 20% of our revenue. Now it represents 30% of our $3 billion revenue," Plank told a a gathering of media, employees and invited guests in New York. "Our goal is to have (sales of women's lines) equal or surpass the men's category in the future."
"I Will What I Want" has been fronted by Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, world-renowned ballerina Misty Copeland and U.S. Women's National Soccer Team member Kelley O'Hara.
Under Armour said that Copeland was selected to star in the first ad for the campaign specifically because of the challenges she faced and the road she had to travel to reach success. "I cried the first time I saw the ad," Copeland said after it aired for the gathering in New York.
LeAnne Fremar, Under Armour's svp/creative director for women's apparel; and Heidi Sandreuter, VP-Women's marketing, played majorroles in the "I Will What I Want" initiative.
According to Fremar, many women consider Under Armour as a brand for guys. "We want to also show that Under Armour is a brand that understands how they think and feel, understands the challenges they face and have overcome and how they want to improve themselves through health and fitness."
Under Armour has other high-profile endorsers across all sports and elsewhere, including Tom Brady, Gisele Bündchen, Bryce Harper, Sloane Stephens, Buster Posey, Clayton Kershaw, Cam Newton, Michael Phelps and Jermaine Jones.
In May, the company, which oversees a Power in Pink breast awareness campaign, committed a gift of $10 million to provide "infrastructure and innovation to the Under Armour LiveWell Center at The Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Under Armour has alliances with some two dozen colleges and universities in the U.S., including via deals signed this year the Naval Academy and the University of Notre Dame.
New alliances also included Rugby Canada, Cruz Azul and as anchor partner for the NFHS Network (a destination for boys and girls high school sporting events live and on demand from across the country).
This month, Under Armour formed a partnership with NBCUniversal's Radius, a new fitness premium subscription digital video service, to include apparel, co-branded original content development and cross-marketing initiatives,
Among others, Under Armour works with The Wounded Warrior Project, The V Foundation, The Ronald McDonald House and Habitats for Humanity. Under Armour has an extensive role with the NFL and GE in the Head Health Challenge, which awards up to $10 million for new innovations and materials that can protect the brain from traumatic injury and for new tools for tracking head impacts in real time.
Under Armour faced a crisis during the Winter Olympics in Sochi when U.S. speed skaters wearing UA's new Mach 39 speed suits had poor results, then continued to underachieve when they switched back to their previous Under Armour suits. With the athletes blaming the Mach 39 suit's design for the sub-par non-medal showing, Under Armour's image, reputation and stock price took a hit.
The company took control of the crisis by making its executives and spokespersons including Phelps and Vonn available to the world press, where they dealt with the situation head-on. The tactic worked as U.S. Speedskating and Under Armour signed an alliance extending their pact through 2022 even while the Games were still in progress.
"Under Armour Inc.’s investors have every reason to be pleased," Bob Cramer, business and financial analyst, wrote this month for financial research, news and stock market analysis Web site Bidness Etc. "Analysts are optimistic regarding Under Armour’s potential to deliver strong growth via core product category expansion and international expansion . . . [UA has shown a] 57.7% year-to-date growth in the stock [and] over the next 12-18 months analysts expect a 5.4% increase in the stock.
Under Armour Puts Vonn, Copeland In Driver's Seat For 'Womenifesto'
Back to Top Sports Marketers of the Year 2014
Back to Home Page