SBJ/December 5-11, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Under Armour signs deal with Tough Mudder

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Apparel maker Under Armour has signed a two-year partnership with Tough Mudder, a series of endurance running events in which participants navigate obstacles and run through mud. The deal gives Under Armour exclusivity in the apparel and footwear categories. The value of the deal was not known.

The two-year-old series of races sends competitors into water and under barbed wire.
Photo by: TOUGH MUDDER
“We think [Tough Mudder] is going to become the premier endurance competition in the U.S.,” said Matt Mirchin, senior vice president of global sports marketing for Under Armour.

Founded in the fall of 2009 by a Harvard MBA student, Tough Mudder sends runners on a 12-mile course that features freezing water, barbed wire, a fire pit and live electric wires, among other obstacles. Last year, the series attracted approximately 150,000 participants. For 2012, the series has grown to 32 events, including stops in Squaw Valley, Calif.; Sydney, Australia; and Tokyo.

Since the fall of 2010, Tough Mudder has brought on Dos Equis, Clif Bar, FRS, Degree antiperspirant and Bic razors as sponsors.

“One of the most frequent questions we get asked is, ‘What should I wear?’” said Alex Patterson, Tough Mudder’s chief marketing officer. “Under Armour is synonymous with being hard-core and tough, and that’s what we think Tough Mudder is in the events space.”

Tough Mudder becomes Under Armour’s first event sponsorship in endurance racing.
Photo by: TOUGH MUDDER
Under Armour has a personal endorsement deal with two-time Ironman triathlon champion Chris McCormack, but the Tough Mudder deal is its first event sponsorship in endurance racing. Starting with the Jan. 14-15 Tough Mudder event in Arizona, Under Armour will receive signage, a branded obstacle (which has yet to be designed) and activation space in the finish-line “party zone.” It also will receive naming rights for the May 12-13 Tough Mudder event to be held outside of London as well as an event in Maryland that will occur in the fall.

Finishers at all Tough Mudder events will receive an event-branded Under Armour performance shirt and headband. Under Armour also will sell Tough Mudder-branded apparel — including its new coldblack line of temperature-reducing active wear — online as well as at Tough Mudder events. The apparel will not be available at retailers nor in Under Armour’s stores.

The series and apparel maker also will launch a co-branded training program for the events in 2012. The details of that program have not been decided.

Dan Weinberg, sponsorship director for Tough Mudder, said the series was in discussions with Reebok as well as Under Armour for the category. “It’s hugely important and will help with the credibility factor,” Weinberg said.

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