Jan 29, 2010 at 03:56 PM
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Under Armour Protecting Core Brand, But Expanding Communications

Kevin Plank says that the apparel company he co-founded in 1996, Under Armour, 'speaks the language of football' but says the company is investing heavily in brand communication beyond the football field as well.

Under Armour yesterday reported a 24% rise in 4th quarter revenue, but said operating costs, such as marketing expenditures and R&D, would exceed revenue growth in 2010.

Beyond football, Under Armour has sought to leverage the Vancouver Olympics to show innovation in cold weather gear such as performance based layers. UA is the official uniform supplier of the U.S. bobsled team and U.S. freestyle ski team. UA has partnered on communication with channel partners, such as Dick's Sporting Goods, which it worked with to produce a cold weather gear commercial around the Games featuring skier Lindsey Vonn.

When it comes to team sports, Plank believes it's all about using non-traditional communications to demonstrate authenticity.

"It’s about protecting our foundation, staying close to the heart of athletes and not doing so by just adding another traditional sports marketing asset to our stable," Plank said.

Over the past few months, Under Armour has done a bit of both: traditional and non-traditional team marketing platforms.

This July, Under Armour will start outfitting Boston Colleges Athletics, while it has partnered with IMG Performance to create 50 NFL-style skills combines throughout the country for high school athletes. Plank said Combine 360 will also serve as a grassroots level showcase for the Under Armour brand as well as new products in categories from like footwear.

On marketing strategy, Plank continued: "Our brand communication strategy is in synch with our overall growth strategy. We are focused on maintaining our core while bringing new consumers in to the brand. We will continue to invest in our growth drivers, pulling the multiple levers to ensure long term growth and we will continue to invest in brand communication and distribution that will bring the Under Armour performance story to a new audience.

photo credit: underarmour.com