SBD/February 13, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Under Armour Unveils "I Will" Campaign, Looks To Increase Spending By 20% In '13

Canelo Alvarez fits Under Armour's "upstart, underdog" image
Under Armour yesterday launched “I Will,” the brand’s biggest global marketing campaign to date. The campaign features a 60-second spot that includes Nationals CF Bryce Harper, Bobcats G Kemba Walker, tennis player Sloane Stephens and boxer Canelo Alvarez. The spot debuted online yesterday and will make its TV debut Saturday during TNT’s NBA All-Star Weekend coverage. UA President, Chair & CEO Kevin Plank and COO Kip Fulks introduced the new campaign in N.Y. alongside Texans RB Arian Foster (UA). In Baltimore, Chris Korman noted the campaign “recalls the old ‘Will you protect this house?’ commercial that first helped the company become popular,” and the spot focuses on “an area that has become increasingly important: high-end technology and innovation.” UA “wants you to think of it as the company constantly pushing to find ways to make your life as an athlete better.” The message “doesn't deviate much from the founding principle of the company -- faster-drying fabric -- but it does represent an elevation of the concept.” it is “interesting to note that much” of the new spot centers on Alvarez. Although the WBC light-middleweight champion from Mexico is “well-known in boxing circles and his home country, he's yet to make a huge impact in the United States.” But he “fits the upstart, underdog image that Plank has cultivated.” That also is why Stephens, the "only ranked teenager in pro tennis, appears.” Meanwhile, the company also “released details on its Armour 39 product line, which has been in the works for several years and focuses” on measuring "will power." The product “costs $149.99, and you can download a free application onto your phone or tablet that will deliver the diagnostics.” A pre-order sale for Armour 39 “will begin on the company's website Friday, but the product won't be available until March” (BALTIMORESUN.com, 2/12).

SPEND MONEY TO MAKE MONEY: UA Senior VP/Brand Steve Battista said that this year’s spending “will be up about 20% over a year ago, given the brand's sales growth.” Data from Kantar Media showed that the brand spent about $12M "on measured media in the first three quarters of 2012.” Battista said, "It's been 10 years since we've had an anthem." He also said that the new campaign is “friendlier to females than previous attempts at ‘dual-gender’ campaigns” (ADAGE.com, 2/12).

CONCERNS ABOUT A REVOLVING DOOR? In Baltimore, Jack Lambert notes UA Senior VP/Footwear Gene McCarthy resigned from the company on Jan. 24 after being hired in ‘09 to “make Under Armour one of the top players in the shoe market.” McCarthy is “at least the fourth high-level executive to leave Under Armour since August 2011, a departure rate that worries some industry analysts.” Analysts and industry experts now are “wondering why Under Armour executives continue leaving the company, as well as what is next for its footwear business.” The biggest impact of McCarthy’s departure is the “effect it will have on Under Armour’s footwear business.” The 17-year-old company “still controls just a small portion of the national, non-cleats shoe market.” Fulks has “taken over as head of the company’s footwear department.” But Raleigh-based Sports Group Int'l VP Dave Reinhart said that UA “still has a deep bench of footwear executives, many of whom were brought in under McCarthy, who are capable of creating innovative shoes” (BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/8 issue).
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