‘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.”


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