The Under Armour brand is kicking butt on athlete endorsements

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Under_armour_logo.svgFull respect to the Under Armour brand, who have gone from an “under the equipment” materials business to one of the coolest sports businesses.  How did under-shirts ever become cool?

Love the entrepreneurial story: Under Armour, started by Kevin Plank in 1996, ran the first year out of his grandmother’s basement in Baltimore. Plank was a Running Back in College and got tired of his sweat soaked tee shirts. Noticing that his shorts remained dry in practice, he was inspired to make a T-shirt using moisture-wicking synthetic fabric. Like an entrepreneur, he sold the materials directly out of the trunk of his car, up and down the east coast. Hard work. Pretty soon, the best athletes gravitated to the brand and started to wear Under Armour. Everyone began noticing and the tipping point happened quickly.  The authentic sports brand was born.

Under Armour could have stayed small, but instead has jumped into the big arena going up against Nike and Adidas in the sports garment industry. Half the US share of Nike, but on the verge of over-taking Adidas for the #2 slot. And the brand is celebrating year 20.

Capturing athlete endorsements is a big bucks gamble, a bit like signing a top draft pick and hoping they can catch the ball. Look at any draft and half the first round makes it. Under Armour’s first big attempt to land a top dog was their bid for Kevin Durrant, but he ended up with Nike. But now they were in the game.

Most people start deciding what sports brand they want to get behind in High School or College, then stick with it the rest of their life. So, the 15-25 year old is the target of all your athlete endorsement. Whether by good solid scouting, a bit of luck and hard work, let’s look at the amazing roster of Under Armour.

The Under Armour Roster

So which athlete does the 15-25 year olds love? Steph Curry. Under Armour has him, signed at $4 Million a year compared to Kevin Durrant’s $30 Million per or Adidas with James Harden at $20 Million per. As reigning NBA MVP and likely headed for a second straight he is a human-highlight reel every night. His Curry One shoes are selling through the roof.

Who is the best golfer on the planet?  Jordan Speith is 22 years old and just won two majors in 2015. Plus, he’s American. While Nike has Rory McIlroy for 10 years at $25 Million, Under Armour signed Spieth to a 10 year deal that is completely incentive driven, tied to performance. They initially offered him a 25 year contract.

Who is the best football player and certainly the one generating the most press?  Cam Newton. Yes, he’s polarizing and controversial, but only if you’re over 25. He is beloved by the teens. Under Armour has him.

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Who is the best hockey player on the planet? Goalie Carey Price. His injury alone this year has seen the complete collapse of the Montreal Canadiens. Under Armour has him.

Who is the best baseball player?  Bryce Harper. He’s likely the Cam Newton of baseball, high on controversy but an athletic freak at the plate. Under Armour has him. Best baseball pitcher?  Clayton Kershaw with the cool locks flowing with every pitch for the Dodgers.

Add Julio Jones, Dee Gordon, Sloane Stevens and even Misty Copeland in dance.

Speaking of Misty Copeland, here’s a defining brand changing moment TV ad (nearly 10 million views):

 

No doubt Nike’s roster is impressive. But they would kill to have this roster for the next 5 years. As for Adidas, they are likely scrambling to repair their roster. And maybe trying to hire the Under Armour scouts.

So are you now seeing how an underwear company has become a very cool brand? 

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter.custom_business_card_pile_15837 We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands.

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Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” is stealing away the Olympics again!!!

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

At Beijing in 2008, Nike did such a good job that almost as many consumers felt they were the Olympic sponsor.

They flooded the malls of Beijing with Nike ads, knowing that people would be so hot, they would seek shelter in the malls. It was so successful, it forced the IOC to change the rules for Vancouver 2010 where only sponsors could do any ads within 150 miles of the host city. In London, Nike’s Jordan brand has already announced that they will be carrying live tweets of the US team’s Basketball games. (to read that article, click here: Nike to Ambush the Olympics through Twitter) But Nike’s “Reach For Greatness” campaign has the chance to steal away the games of London 2012.

For me, there are two visuals that stand out from these Olympics:

  1. The kid up on the diving tower, who stands in terror and eventually jumps
  2. The fat kid running along an empty country road at the break of dawn.

Here we are watching the Olympic games, where the greatest of the greats converge. Where Silver is referred to as the first loser. Where people who come fourth are in tears and feel the need to apologize. Where millionaires are instantly made–their sponsor has their new TV ad out within seconds of winning Gold. Visa congratulated athletes with real-time footage seconds after their victory and Corn Flakes has the Gold Medal winner already on their box. Terrific marketing, but what about the average Joe? Who is for the underdog in this world?

And yet here comes Nike, with two average people trying to reach for greatness in their own way. It’s a pleasantly surprising move coming from Nike who have a stable of the most pompous and most pampered athletes of our day. This is yet another move fron Nike, a non-sponsor, to hijack the Olympics. Since Nike has enough money to sponsor the games, I wonder if they are having more fun trying to steal them away without paying. It is fast becoming a lucrative hobby. It is amazing to see real people reaching and celebrating their own versions of greatness. These average people are far more inspirational than Tiger Woods or Lebron James.

This first Nike TV ad shows all the greatness going on around the world, creatively borrowing the word London, whether that’s in London Ohio or London Nigeria, London Field or on London Street. I love the end of the ad with the kid perched up in terror on the diving tower, afraid to jump. It’s a perfect metaphor for our own fears. And then he jumps. It’s the most basic of jumps, but the point is…he jumped. Maybe if we push ourselves, we can find our own version of greatness.

 

The next ad, features a 12-year old from London Ohio, filmed with one shot against a voice over. And yet it is extremely creative and inspiring. This is not a super human. This is what average looks like. Here’s a kid that’s 5 foot 3, 200 pounds, trying to get in shape. Not for the games of 2024, but just to get in shape. We can all relate to this kid. None of us are going to the games, but we can each push ourselves to get a bit better and find our own greatness.

 

Congrats Nike, you’ve done it again. This is the best return on no-investment I have seen.

 

If you are in the mood to see other great advertising, here’s a few other stories:

 

To see a training presentation on getting better Advertising: 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

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