By Barry Janoff
December 23, 2014: As part of a concerted effort to expand its brand worldwide, Under Armour has signed a multi-year deal to become the official uniform supplier for the Yomiuri Giants, the most storied franchise in the history of Japanese baseball.
The deal takes effect with the 2015 Nippon Professional Baseball League season. Financial details were not disclosed.
Among other international deals, Under Armour also has alliances with Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League, Rugby Canada, Welsh Rugby Union, Colo-Colo of the Chilean Primera División and Toluca of Mexico's Liga MX.
Over the past year, the brand has launched in Brazil, Chile, Panama, the Philippines, Singapore and Shanghai.
The deal was handled by Tokyo Dome Corp., which is licensed to sell the Baltimore-based company’s products in Japan.
“The Yomiuri Giants are the most distinguished team in the Nippon Professional Baseball League," Tokyo Dome CEO Shuichi Yasuda said in a statement. “It’s an honor to have the opportunity to dedicate our passion for making athletes better into this game-changing partnership and design the most innovative uniforms on the field today."
Marketing support was not detailed but is expected to include signage in the team's Tokyo Dome home stadium, print, Internet and social media.
Among other features, the team's road jerseys will have the name “Tokyo” across the front for the first time in 13 seasons.
According to Giants president Hiroshi Kubo, “This incorporates the fact that we play in Tokyo and the team is representative of Japan. We will continue creative efforts to build the Giants brand.”
The Yomiuri Giants began play in 1934 and have won 22 Japan Series titles, leading to the franchise being nicknamed "the New York Yankees of Japan."
Sadaharu Oh, who played with the Giants from 1959-1980, is regarded as the Babe Ruth of baseball in Japan.
Under Armour's global strategy to extend its global reach were underlined when the company recently released its Q3 financial figures.
"Our plans of crossing $3 billion in net revenues and achieving 30% growth this year represent significant milestones for the brand, but we believe we are just getting started," Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank said in a statement regarding the Q3 financial report "We are delivering consistent top line results while making the right investments to support both the near- and long-term opportunities of the brand.
"This includes investments to build world-class design and innovation capabilities for all of our products, accelerate our international footprint, and expand our 30 million users under our Connected Fitness platform," said Plank. "We believe this balanced approach will continue to drive our global ambitions and long-term value for our shareholders."
Under Armour has been named one of the Top Ten Sports Marketers of the Year for 2014 by NYSportsJournalisn.com.
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