Under Armour’s New Ads Focus on Sportswear Rather Than Just Sports

Under Armour is expanding its reach beyond the field and the court for its fall campaign.

The Baltimore-based brand this week will debut a new marketing campaign focused on sportswear rather than just sports. As it explains in the marketing materials: “You know us for sweat-wicking shirts, for infrared training tech, for energy-returning running shoes — the game-ready gear we’ve been devoted to 25 years and counting.”

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But this season, the company said, its message will evolve with a new focus on “high-performance gear for sport and street.”

While the photography for its past campaigns has centered around motivational images of athletes performing their sport, this one is markedly different as it seeks to become more relevant to its target customer, the varsity athlete. Casting, styling and art direction show the product in new ways with more of a fashion bent.

The campaign features Under Armour’s Unstoppable, Meridian, Icon and Limitless sportswear-skewed product as well as performance product under the HeatGear, ColdGear, Vanish and Infinity brands, all of which were shot in a studio rather than on the field of play. It was photographed by Under Armour’s brand photographer James Michelfelder, who shot the performance product, and fashion photographer Nagi Sakai, who shot the sportswear.

Under Armour fall '24 campaign.
The images morph fashion with performance pieces.

“The fall ’24 collection clearly signals the new direction Under Armour is headed, which combines our expertise in performance wear with a style-first approach,” said Jen Matic, global senior creative director of Under Armour. “This is designed to attract new customers who are focused on street style while also engaging our core customer who trusts the unmatched quality and performance of our products. With this direction, we wanted to approach the brand creative in a whole new way in order to bring our sportswear muse — the varsity athlete — to life in an elevated and exciting way.”

She said the fall collection includes product to be worn both on and off the field, “so we were inspired to approach it with an elevated creative backdrop to convey how the product can show up in new ways. We worked to deliberately craft a brand image that would stand out and show our younger consumer what Under Armour is all about.”

The campaign features sportswear pieces such as cargo or parachute pants, varsity jackets and fleece hoodies and joggers under the Unstoppable brand and bombers and plus-size outfits under the Meridian label. Meridian also features a collection of body-sculpting basics including leggings and cropped mockneck tops in a high-shine fabric. The Icon collection includes hoodies with embroidered patches, oversize hoodies and shorts and there are down puffers under the Limitless label.

But the company didn’t turn its back on its heritage, showcasing performance product such as T-shirts and shorts, sports bras and leggings — shot this time in a more fashion-forward way.

Under Armour fall '24 campaign
Even the performance product is given a more fashion-forward bent.

The campaign features several sneaker models including the Slipspeed and the Slipspeed Mega, Infinite Elite and Pro, the Storm, Phantom 4, a “street sneaker,” and the Apparition, one of the brand’s original running shoes that has been updated with fresh colors and HOVR cushioning.

After years of growth, Under Armour has been struggling to regain its footing. In May, it laid out a significant 18-month restructuring plan that will include an unspecified number of layoffs, a 25 percent reduction in product, a renewed focus on its historic strength in menswear, substantially less discounting and a new communication strategy to get the message out to consumers. This came shortly after founder Kevin Plank was reinstated as chief executive officer, succeeding former Marriott International executive Stephanie Linnartz, who left after about a year in the top post.

Last week, Under Armour agreed to pay $434 million to settle a 2017 class-action suit centered around pulling forward sales from another quarter as well as Under Armour’s disclosures and accounting of sales in 2015 and 2016. In 2021, the company agreed to a $9 million civil settlement in a separate, but similar, case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Under Armour has consistently denied the accusations brought by shareholders in the class-action suit and said it entered into the agreement in principle “given the costs and risks inherent in litigation.”

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