SBD/June 1, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

On The Catwalk: Under Armour Looks To Expand Business With More Focus On Fashion

UA has launched a new line of graphic T-shirts in an effort to expand its product line
Under Armour is “looking to up its game -- and expand its business -- with zebra-print leggings for women and graphic T-shirts with slogans such as ‘Rain. Snow. Sleet. Wind. Brave the Run,’" according to Andrea Walker of the Baltimore SUN. Under Armour's “reach for fashion fame is intended to build on its market strength among hardcore athletes.” The company is “recruiting talent from the nation's top fashion design schools and taking greater fashion risks to modernize its vision.” Analysts said that if Under Armour "wants to be a true powerhouse, it has to make its gear attractive beyond the locker room.” Under Armour's “newest ‘look book,’ which previews the offerings this fall, features gym bags that look like designer purses and colorful puffer vests that might be worn casually on a brisk day.” There are “tops in the latest fashion trends that could be worn straight from the gym to an afternoon trip to the mall.” Baltimore-based ad firm TBC Exec VP & Managing Dir Howe Burch: "The thing with fashion is that it is a slippery slope. What is in fashion one day may not be the next day.” Under Armour Senior Creative Dir of Women’s & Youth Apparel Noreen Naroo-Pucci said, "Ultimately, we will never compromise the performance aspect of what we offer." Walker noted the company “wants to grow its women's business to be larger than the men's side.” Industry research has found that “women care more about what they look like when working out” (Baltimore SUN, 5/31).

ADIDAS BANKING ON OLYMPICS FOR U.K. BOOST: In London, James Hall noted Nike is “currently market leader” in the U.K. with an 18% share of the almost US$7.1B sportswear market. adidas is in second place with a 15% share, but “hopes that its status as official sportswear partner” of the ‘12 London Games “will help it achieve its goal of overtaking Nike by 2015 at the latest.” adidas, in addition to providing the apparel for 25 of the 26 Olympic sports, will also dress the Olympic volunteers, "provide the outfits for the pre-games torch relay and create clothing for the athletes to wear in the Olympic Village.” adidas is also the LOCOG “official clothing licensee, and will sell Olympic-themed and branded clothes through its own stores and third-party retailers.” adidas Group Chair & CEO Herbert Hainer said that the company “is hoping to achieve sales of [US$165M] from its Olympic clothing lines.” The company will “bolster its marketing throughout the UK in the run-up to the Games by opening 100 temporary ‘AdiZones’ -- areas that will include free-to-use tennis, football or basketball equipment.” adidas Managing Dir of Market North Gil Steyaert: “We like to believe we will be the cool brand of the Games." Steyaert said that adidas hopes to “knock Nike off its perch in the UK,” but Hall noted the company must “beat Nike in London, where it is the top sports brand by some distance.” Steyaert said that adidas is the “most popular brand in certain areas of the north of England, such as Liverpool.” But adidas “must win London if it wants total dominance.” adidas “has invested around” US$165M in the ‘12 London Games (London TELEGRAPH, 5/30).
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