The company is shifting more of its marketing budget into social media and online promotions in an attempt to be a key part of conversations taking place between amateur athletes. Both Nike and Adidas have pioneered the strategy in recent years but Under Armour believes the shift from “traditional six month campaigns” to shorter bursts of activity can give it a greater share of voice in the long-term.
It is being supported by blogger activity from fitness communities across the region as the brand steps up efforts to build a collective of influencers. Under Armour has experimented with how it rewards fans, which it refers to as athletes, throughout the year trialing several schemes.
Chris Carroll, director of marketing for the EMEA region at Under Armour, says: “It’s not just about mass media channels. We want to become part of the day-to-day conversations of athletes in a subtler way than just pushing promotions to them. The strategy is about us being nimble and ready to go so that if cold weather hits across Northern Europe we can react and incentivise conversation between athletes.”
The digital drive is being pushed through the next phase of its “I Will” campaign to promote its ColdGear winter apparel range. Branded content will run across YouTube, VIVA, MTV and Eurosport alongside ads featuring world champion downhill skier Lindsey Vonn and golfer Jordan Spieth.
Under Armour will use the story around Vonn’s comeback from injury to compete at next year’s Winter Olympics to promote the”I Will” campaign in the run up to the event. The brand along with fellow non-sponsor Nike is looking to hijack the attention around the tournament to spur first quarter sales. Despite the negative PR surrounding the event because of host nation Russia’s anti-gay laws, Under Armour says its ties to the athletes rather than the event will ensure there is no brand contamination.
Carroll says: “We see the Winter Olympics as an opportunity to show how we can make [amateur] athletes perform better. We’re going to be translating the stories around our worldclass athletes to a local level. That approach will allow us to be on the side of the athletes whereas Coke or another sponsor is more tied to the physical event.”
The updates follow a brand audit of Under Armour’s pan-European offering in October, which it says revealed “great strides” made this year in terms of unaided awareness, prompted awareness and propensity to purchase. It expects revenue to hit $2.26bn (£1.4bn) by the end of 2013, a 23 per cent year-on-year jump.