‘Sports sponsorship is becoming too samey’ says Under Armour as it launches rugby campaign


Having kicked off its nationwide Earn Your Armour rugby campaign today (September 7th) with a float on the River Thames, Under Armour’s head of marketing for EMEA Christopher Carroll says the brand is trying to align itself with athletes that are underdogs in order to combat the “samey” nature of sports sponsorship.

Under Armour shipping containers full of new Armour baselayer product pass under Tower Bridge on their way down the River Thames

Ahead of the Rugby World Cup, the sports brand is promoting its kit’s unique HeatGear fabric, which boasts anti-odour technology, by aligning with stars including Welsh Rugby’s Jamie Roberts and England’s James Haskell. The #EarnYourArmour will run across retail, social, digital and out-of-home channels.

Carroll says the brand has consciously targeted lesser-known athletes for sponsorship opportunities as they often have a “more unique story to tell.”

He told Marketing Week: “You could argue sports sponsorship has got a little predictable with the same names promoting products.

“We want to change that whether that’s through Memphis Depay at Manchester United or the golfer Jordan Spieth; we’re only partnering with athletes whose stories mirror our own.

“We see ourselves as a new challenger and underdog in the sportswear category so we aim to be disruptive in who we partner with. Under Armour isn’t a podium brand, it’s about hard work and training, which often offer us more unique stories.”

Growth in rugby

Under Armour has made “significant progress” over the last two years, according to Carroll, who says the brand has doubled its brand awareness score each year and tripled its brand equity ratings as it aims to challenge established players such as Adidas and Nike.

And he says that rugby can “write its own future” in determining whether it can challenge football’s dominant position in the brand sponsorship arena.

“I think the brand of rugby must write its own future in terms of balancing commercialism with participation,” he adds.

“Rugby has the roughness on the field but also a real heritage. That is a strong point of difference globally and in the UK sports marketplace too. I think if they can continue to make rugby accessible through TV and to the youth in terms of participation then it will only become more attractive to brands.”

Hide Comments4 Show Comments
  • Mary Kavan 8 Sep 2015 at 6:26 am

    I think Under Armour is doing a fantastic job at remaining
    loyal to their own brand. So many companies nowadays stray away from what their company really stands for and what their ultimate objectives are because all
    they are ever looking for is the best of the best. Under Armour’s move by
    taking on lesser-known athletes is a great way to help tell stories that fans
    are anxious to hear and market both themselves and the athletes in a different
    light. And if they are lucky, some of their current sponsorships may turn out
    to be super successful within the sport in the future and therefore, take the
    brand with them. I also love that their focus is on rugby right now. Rugby is
    an up and coming sport all across the globe. It’s slowly getting more and more
    attention from fans and athletes as a very successful sport to get into. Choosing
    to further promote within the rugby league more could lead to substantial
    sponsorship growth within that sport as a whole.

  • Ja$on Auld 8 Sep 2015 at 10:46 am

    Does anyone know the agency UA are working with and who are behind this floating ad? Very cool indeed.

  • Mike Fletcher 8 Sep 2015 at 3:55 pm

    So Jamie Roberts, James Haskell, Jordan Spieth and Memphis Depay are ‘lesser-known athletes’? Really? I would say they are all well recognised sportsmen at the very top of their chosen field.

  • David Wiggins 15 Sep 2015 at 1:44 pm

    The best form of sports sponsorship is creativity and being different! Be creative with your brand and bed into the hub of community that sport brings. Who can forget the many brand logo’s on the 12/13 Evian TG shirt, which you simply don’t see in England

    In terms of brand experience no one seems to take advantage of in stadium outside of the EPL, everyone wants a big floating board such as with UA which then becomes ‘noise’ in a city which is so used to it

  • Post a comment

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