Under Armour is "poised for continued growth with a soon-to-be released football cleat that's expected to drive footwear sales, as well as plans to keep expanding into international markets," according to Loraine Mirabella of the Baltimore SUN. UA Chair, President & CEO Kevin Plank yesterday at the stockholders' meeting "introduced offerings that are expected to drive sales in women's and men's apparel and footwear." Plank was "surrounded by displays" of football cleats, running shoes, pants and shirts. Plank said, "We see this as a huge opportunity for our brand." He added that he sees the new shoes "as a way to make inroads" into the $26.4B U.S. footwear market. Plank said that when the football cleat was first offered online, "it sold out in two hours, mainly to first-time Under Armour buyers in 43 states." He added that UA also is "focusing on direct-to-consumer categories ... and in international markets, with new store openings planned this year in China." The company said last month that it "expected revenue this year" of $1.78-1.8B, a 21-22% increase over last year. Stockholders "watched videos about new products such as the company's 'coldblack' shirts, and were treated to a surprise appearance" by new Ravens RB Bernard Pierce. UA's women's apparel business, "a fast-growing category that accounts for nearly 30 percent of its clothing sales, is expected to benefit from another new product, the 'Armour Bra.'" The company said that the bra was "designed with the help of doctors and athletes" (Baltimore SUN, 5/2).
BUSINESS IS BOOMING: In Baltimore, Jack Lambert wrote UA's baseball cleats "helped drive the company's" $64M in footwear sales in Q1. Plank noted, "Cleats as a whole, between football, baseball and soccer, is a $900 million category." Plank said that the success of UA's cleats "could help its overall footwear line ... as the company is getting set to launch a new 'midsole technology' in both athletic shoes and cleats in July." Plank said that UA is "filming a new commercial for the new midsole technology this week," featuring Panthers QB Cam Newton, Patriots QB Tom Brady and UFC fighter George St. Pierre. The commercial will "run in July, when the shoes hit stores" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/1). In a Q&A with the BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL's Lambert, Plank said of plans to compete with Nike for more of an NFL presence, "I think we're up over 100 players in the NFL wearing cleats and gloves out there." In regards to any future UA acquisitions, Plank said, "We’ll never say never on anything, but we’ve never bought a company in our company’s history. I think frankly that’s been one of the things that gets people off course a couple of times, thinking about solving for everybody else." As for whether UA would be willing to become title sponsor of the IndyCar Baltimore Grand Prix, Plank said, "We’ll help. We participated a year ago too, but I don’t think that is our role to take (the title sponsorship) on (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/1).
UEFA Euro '12 sponsors Carlsberg, Castrol and U.K.-based telecommunications company Orange are all “focusing their activity around this summer’s tournament on social media to avoid being overshadowed by the likes of Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, which are also sponsoring the London Olympics,” according to Joseph & O’Reilly of MARKETING WEEK. Carlsberg has launched a Facebook campaign that “encourages fans to show their support for England via a series of challenges as part of a wider multimillion campaign.” Carlsberg U.K. Dir of Marketing David Scott said that the brand “has made more of an effort to galvanise supporters and work closer with its retail partners than it has done for any of its previous campaigns around the European football championships.” Joseph & O’Reilly report that the growth of social media since Euro '08 means that Castrol “can now use the predictions from its EDGE Index -- the official tournament ranking system -- to respond to fans in real-time on Facebook and Twitter.” Castrol’s digital presence during this year's event will be “supported by in-store, outdoor and press activity as the brand looks to engage with fans across multiple touchpoints.” Meanwhile, Orange has made interaction its “biggest priority for its Euro 2012 strategy.” The majority of the company’s marketing will focus on “direct channels, such as using social media for its Supporters’ Cup competitions and launching the official Euro 2012 mobile app.” TV activity "is also planned" for Orange, but Head of Global Sponsorships & Partnerships John Constantinou said that is “more of a ‘nice to have’ than its core focus” (MARKETINGWEEK.co.uk, 5/2).
Venus Williams was in N.Y. Monday to "launch her new tenniswear collection," EleVen, and is working with a manufacturing partner, Ugo Capasso, to produce the line in L.A., according to Lisa Lockwood of WOMEN'S WEAR DAILY. Capasso said of Williams, "She's fully involved in the design, which makes it easy for us." Capasso added that EleVen will offer "three small capsules this year, and next spring, the line will be three times the size." Distribution will be "expanded to department and specialty stores and more pro shops." Williams said that the collection "isn't inspired by the latest trends, but rather comes from deep within herself." For her line -- which "features strong, simple and classic designs -- she brings her love of art and watercolor and even incorporates some of her original prints." Some of the styles have "secret, handwritten messages from Williams such as 'Bring It,' and 'Oh and Oh, Beat 'Em,' which are hidden in each piece of the collection." She plans to "expand to a lifestyle line" in '13. Williams said, "Right now, it's just a sneak peak of it all. It's my mind and my philosophy coming out in clothes. This is just the beginning. It's important to have calculated growth. You have to be strategic." Although she "doesn't have a footwear line yet, she said someday she would like to design sneakers under the EleVen label." Williams: "That would be awesome. Now I wear whatever matches the outfit." Lockwood asked, "Does she envision some of her tennis friends wearing the collection on tour?" Williams said, "I'd like to get some of the younger players to wear it. I'll be the kind of person that it wouldn't just be about the clothes. I'd probably say, 'Here are your outfits for these two tournaments. Also here are the earrings and the necklace. Please wear it with this hair band" (WWD.com, 5/1).
AD AGE’s E.J. Schultz reported MillerCoors “is making major changes to its agency roster, the biggest of which is the brewer's cutting ties with its longtime lead creative agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' DraftFCB.” As part of the shift, Razorfish “has lost creative and digital-media duties,” which will now “move to a new multiagency group at WPP.” For the Miller Lite brand, the brewer “has picked Saatchi & Saatchi as lead creative shop, after giving it a tryout in January.” Digitas, however, “keeps Miller Lite digital-creative and -media duties” (ADAGE.com, 5/1).
FALSE ADVERTISING: Penn Racquet Sports Inc. and parent, Head USA Inc., “filed a claim of false advertising Monday in U.S. District Court in Connecticut.” The lawsuit claims that Dunlop Int'l Ltd. and Dunlop Sports Group Americas Inc. “have been misleading the public by labeling Dunlop balls as the ‘World's No. 1 Ball’ and boasting that it has a 70 percent share of the global tennis ball market” (AP, 4/30).
NEW LOOK KNIGHTS: Rutgers yesterday unveiled new football uniforms for the ’12-13 season featuring the Nike Pro Combat System. The program will also strengthen the “Block R” logo (Rutgers). In Orlando, Matt Murschel noted Rutgers “will now have the option of red, white and black jersey and pants as well as several variations of a helmet that will continue to use the ‘Block R’ logo that Scarlet Knights fans have been familiar with” (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 5/1).
SCALING BACK: In Baltimore, Ryan Sharrow wrote, “Don’t look for Legg Mason Inc. to make a big splash on the sports sponsorship scene.” Legg Mason Chair, President & CEO Mark Fetting said that anything the company does “will be targeted and on a smaller scale, focused on the communities where it has operations.” Fetting also said that the company “decided to drop its long-running title sponsorship" of the ATP World Tour event in DC because it “was a holdover from Legg’s days when it had a large retail brokerage operation, including in the D.C. area.” Legg left the retail brokerage business in ’05 (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/1).