Under Armour on Thursday took "a huge leap forward in the fast-emerging fitness technology market" with plans for a $150M acquisition of Austin, Texas-based MapMyFitness, creator of the MapMyRun and MapMyRide mobile applications and websites, according to Mirabella & Sherman of the Baltimore SUN. The acquisition, UA's first, "opens a new frontier ... in online social networks and expands its toehold in fitness devices." MapMyFitness has "more than 20 million registered users who map, record and share their workouts using GPS and other technologies." UA plans to "integrate MapMyFitness applications into its performance-monitoring Armour39 devices, launched earlier this year." But UA officials said that the company also plans to "keep the application open to all devices." UA Founder, Chair & CEO Kevin Plank said that the brand "aims to build on MapMyFitness's digital users and make it a destination for athletes who want to track their workouts." MapMyFitness co-Founder & CEO Robin Thurston said that he "got a call over the summer from Plank ... who proposed the idea of merging." The execs "quickly realized that their companies shared more than a common corporate culture." MapMyFitness currently "has 100 employees." After the sale closes, which is "expected by the end of the year, Thurston will be president of MapMyFitness as well as take on a new role of driving digital business for the apparel brand." MapMyFitness would "remain in Austin and become a subsidiary of Under Armour" (Baltimore SUN, 11/15).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Converse this week named Nemo Design, Portland, its "North American agency of record for retail," according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. Converse had "previously handled the retail responsibilities in-house." Anomaly, N.Y., "remains the Converse advertising agency of record, a role it has held" since '07. Nemo will "help present the retail face for the remastered Converse CONS lifestyle sneaker collection." The collection of three sneakers will "be available starting Friday" at Foot Locker, Footaction and Champs stores as well as online (OREGONLIVE.com, 11/14). AD AGE's Meredith Derby Berg notes as part of the launch, Nemo and Cons "kicked off marketing efforts at the flapship Foot Locker stores" in N.Y. and S.F. Those feature "10-foot interactive window installations broadcasting real-time 'street style' photos taken by a Cons truck of random people wearing Converse in and around the cities." The new Cons campaign also will feature "ambient, print, digital, mobile and social media, and a digital mix tape" (ADAGE.com, 11/15).
The NFLPA sent a letter to Spirit Airlines President & CEO Ben Baldanza "lambasting the company for insensitivity" and demanding that it immediately pull and apologize for its new ad "making light of the Richie Incognito bullying scandal," according to Dave Jamieson of the HUFFINGTON POST. The union also "calls on Spirit to donate some of its profits to an anti-bullying advocacy group." The ad, which the NFLPA in the letter called "pathetic," hypes a $24 discount. The ad "tells travelers not to 'be bullied by high fares.'" It features "a sullen-looking businessman slouched on an airport terminal floor, wearing a helmet in the Miami Dolphins' teal and orange colors." The ad copy "encourages travelers to 'fly incognito out of Florida or any place for that matter.'" The union "accuses Spirit not only of insulting players but 'clumsily co-opting' their names and team colors without permission." A Spirit spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent late Thursday (HUFFINGTONPOST.com, 11/14).
USC sponsor Chevron will be activating heavily at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum Saturday before and during the school's game against No. 4 Stanford. Chevron, which has a long-term partnership with USC Sports Properties, the marketing arm run by Fox Sports, will unveil its STEM Zone exhibit for the first time at a college football game. STEM (an abbreviation for science, technology, engineering and math) Zones have been a critical component of Chevron’s activation at golf's U.S. Open, where it is a USGA corporate partner. It also launched a “Science of Baseball” exhibit this past season at A’s games. Admission to the STEM Zone, located in the fan fest area outside the Coliseum, is free to the public. ESPN’s "College GameDay" will be broadcasting on-site Saturday, which is expected to swell the pregame crowd.
The sleeved "big logo" adidas jerseys that all 10 NBA teams playing on Christmas Day will wear drew more scrutiny Thursday on the afternoon sports talk shows. ESPN's Michael Wilbon called the jerseys "junk" and said they "look like kids' pajamas." Wilbon: "We know what this is about: Sell more jerseys." He added the league is "trying to appeal to a five-year-old because those kids say to their dads and moms, 'I've got to have this jersey.'" ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said the Knicks jersey "looks like Garanimals" ("PTI," ESPN, 11/15). ESPN's Bomani Jones said the jerseys were "apparently inspired by the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters of the 1980s." ESPN's Dan Le Batard: "They're just going to be T-shirts then. They're not going to be uniforms or jerseys" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 11/14). ESPN's Tim Legler: "I just can't do the sleeves. I'm sorry, I can't. I know that it’s become sort of popular over the last few years to try to figure out ways to tinker with what is the traditional basketball uniform. But I just don’t get into the tight-fitting, sleeve look for a basketball player." He added the jerseys look like something people wear "if you were going to ride a bike" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 11/14). Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said he liked the commercial for the Christmas Day games but was "not wild about the jerseys." Cowlishaw: "The look itself is not great." However, L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said if "players are wearing the jerseys, that means the fans will be buying the jerseys." Plaschke: "That means no more big guys with open pits sitting next to me at a game. ... Nobody should wear a tank top jersey to a game with no shirt underneath it. This will end that plague" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 11/14).
In Portland, Allan Brettman noted adidas Dir of Soccer Antonio Zea and adidas America Soccer Dir Ernesto Bruce on Thursday "introduced uniforms and four existing shoes that have been retooled and improved in anticipation" of the '14 FIFA World Cup. The event "served primarily as a showcase for products." Bruce "displayed jerseys for four of the company's most important federations, including world champion Spain, Germany, Argentina and Mexico." He said that the jersey for the Mexico national team, which "sold 33 million units for the last World Cup, is expected to again be the top-seller." The company is "relieved after Mexico's 5-1 victory Wednesday over New Zealand, likely assuring the team will find a place in the 32-team World Cup field" (Portland OREGONIAN, 11/15).
SWOOPING IN: In Philadelphia, John George reported the Eagles have "teamed up with Marvel Custom Solutions to create a custom and exclusive comic featuring Swoop, the football team’s mascot." The comic, "penciled by Canadian comic book artist Tom Grummett, tells the tale of Swoop’s origin and illustrates Swoop’s role" with the Eagles, fans and community. The Eagles are "releasing the comic frame by frame through the team’s social networks" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/14).
NOTES: The AHL St. John's IceCaps and the league on Wednesday announced that Assante Wealth Management has been named title partner of the '14 AHL All-Star Classic. Assante along with Baker Hughes in '02 served as title partner for the first All-Star Classic held in St. John's (AHL)....The NBA and Samsung announced a deal that makes the company the presenting partner of the NBA Global Games Mexico City '13. The Dec. 4 contest features the T'Wolves and Spurs at Mexico City Arena (NBA).