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.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 12.04.06 PM


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 or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands.

Positioning 2016.111
Powered by Zedity

Beautiful Ads that pay tribute to our Veterans will bring a tear to your eye

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

poppyToday is Remembrance Day in Canada–a day we pay honour to our veterans from the wars in our history and sadly even today. These young soldiers fight for our freedom.  

Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918, as hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”.  Every Canadian kid learns about “In Flanders Fields”, which is a war poem, written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (November 30, 1872 – January 28, 1918) who was a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I, and a surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium.  He was inspired to write “In Flanders Fields” on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres. According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially dissatisfied with his work, discarded it. “In Flanders Fields” was first published on December 8 of that year in the London-based magazine Punch. flanders-fieldThe red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem In Flanders Fields. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red colour became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war.

Here are some beautiful ads that pay tribute to the veterans and war heroes.

This ad from Bell in Canada, from the 1990s pays tribute to a war hero from Dieppe in World War II.  

This ad from Guinness called “Empty Chair” is a nice quiet tribute to a soldier, awaiting their return home.

Budweiser has done quite a few ads to salute our heroes of war, but “Welcome Home Troops” in 2006 is so simple, no words are needed.

At 11am, in my hometown of Ottawa, 80,000 people will gather at the War Memorial for a moment of silence. Last month, an unarmed solider Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, only 24 years old was shot in the back as he guarded this war memorial.  Today, we will honour his memory along with all those soldiers lost to war.  

ottawa monument i



Could you ever imagine a Bank ad that might make you cry? Here’s one.

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

In general, bank ads suck.

Banks are just too predictable and safe to be truly innovative. That makes sense, because the only chance a bank takes is with someone else’s money. Yes, there are some good ads from the non-traditional challenger banks, but any of the traditional Banks that we think of as great brands, don’t really have great advertising. They usually lead with a great experience that connects emotionally and creates loyalty with consumers.  

td_logoIn the last decade, TD Bank has been one of those bank brands that leads with the experience. While other banks push products, TD has built an idea of comfort around personalized and convenient customer service that makes you feel special. TD works around your life, instead of forcing you to work around their life.  TD has been smart enough to borrow great ideas from Banks they acquired–Canada Trust and Commerce Bank. They have used those ideas to create a unique culture around “comfortable service” and have operationalized comfort into everything they do. TD is consistently rated by consumers as the best service in the industry, winning the JD Powers award year after year.  


Yet, TD has struggled to create advertising that truly captures their comfort idea. The green chair ads are ok, but not great. Too boring, too stiff and too un-emotional. This week TD created a remarkable “thank you” video, that has gone viral to millions. While the marketing team at TD might think of this as just a tactical video, what they should be asking themselves is: “did we just create an advertising idea that finally articulates the TD brand?”  

Have a look at the video and see how emotional a Bank can be:  


There is a good lesson here.  For brands that struggle telling their story–you might be finding the 30 second TV ad format inhibiting–and makes you even more stiff than you need to be. The freedom of new media options, like viral videos, might allow you to tell your brand’s story and positioning in a more authentic way that will connect with consumers.  TD seems to have learned that lesson.

Bank brands need to open up emotionally and connect with consumers  


How loved is your brand?

We believe a brand’s source of power is the emotional feelings it generates. With that power comes added profitability.

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With the power of connection, the brand can leverage that power into increased growth and profits.

To read more, follow this presentation.