Posted by Barry Silverstein on September 1, 2010 12:00 PM
Fourteen years ago, former college football player Kevin Plan founded the Under Armour sports apparel brand. Since that time, its primary appeal has been to men under 30. Now the company is trying to break out of its mold by making a pitch to women athletes, especially what the company calls the "team girl."
Adrienne Lofton, its executive in charge of Under Armour's women's apparel, tells the New York Times, "The team girl is tough, intense and passionate, and she creates her own style." Lofton defines the team girl as a high school or college athlete who is "competitive and confident" and "continues to work out regularly."
Under Armour is launching its line for women with television ads (above) and an online campaign featuring Olympic alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, runner Monica Hargrove, and professional soccer player Lauren Cheney. But the company will also show male athletes, including basketball player Brandon Jennings and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.
Focus group feedback indicated that women athletes "did not want to be treated separately... [and] don't look at themselves as a female athlete but as an athlete," according to Steve Battista, Under Armour's brand VP.
Battista says that the campaign will rely heavily on digital advertising because "Our customers are telling us they like to receive information online and prefer to shop online." Under Armour is launching a new Facebook page for women, and digital ads that will appear on high school sports site MaxPreps, MTV.com, and other targeted websites.
Eight years ago, Under Armour launched a line for women, but Battista said the company made the mistake of "taking the men's style and cutting it down to fit women." It didn't work and the line was discontinued. Under Armour's new line of women's apparel includes a sports bra, compression shorts and other gear designed for female athletes.
There's a good reason Under Armour is renewing its commitment to women's apparel now. According to market research firm NPD Group, 'It is the only sports apparel sector where sales are forecast to grow."
Here's the mixer version of its "Protect This House" spot, featuring male and female athletes: