BALTIMORE — Under Armour is sticking to its old game plan for its 2020 global branding campaign.
The sporting goods brand, which has endured a number of stumbles over the past couple of years, unveiled Tuesday the latest iteration of its global advertising and marketing plan, which is centered around the theme: “The Only Way Is Through.”
While several of its competitors have embraced a more inclusive and democratic approach to sports marketing, Under Armour instead stuck with what has worked in the past, tapping its high-profile sponsored athletes and a few others to star in the sweat-fueled, athletically charged campaign.
That includes former Olympian Michael Phelps (who introduced the campaign), Super Bowl champion Tom Brady NBA champion Stephen Curry and World Cup champion soccer player Kelley O’Hara, among others. The campaign also features a few dual-gender high school football and basketball teams.
The athletes are shown pushing their bodies to the limit — wearing and using Under Armour products, naturally — and the voiceover speaks to their struggles and motivation to succeed.
“This isn’t a clever advertising slogan,” said Brian Boring, vice president of global brand creative for Under Armour. “It’s a statement that encompasses what every person striving to achieve a goal understands in his or her heart. We know there are no shortcuts and no magical solution. It’s thinking smarter, working harder, being better than yesterday — through the highest highs and the lowest lows — and being the best version of yourself. That is the ethos of Only Way Is Through.”
The new Under Armour brand message is about breaking through.
The campaign was unveiled Tuesday during a two-day summit at the company’s Baltimore headquarters where hundreds of trainers, influencers and journalists from around the world gathered. The marketing plan includes a 90-second video that will be augmented by spotlight pieces on a series of athletes “exploring their ‘through’ moments,” the company said.
Under Armour is planning to host experiential events in major cities around the world in support of the campaign, including New York, London and Shanghai. In addition, the company is partnering with iHeartRadio to launch The Only Way Is Through podcast featuring its roster of elite athletes who will discuss their own personal stories, training and mentors.
The Only Way Is Through campaign will run across broadcast, online, out-of-home and social media platforms with a focus on key global sport and cultural moments throughout 2020.
While the campaign is motivational, it doesn’t break any ground for the company, which has been criticized for its knock-knuckles “bro” culture and aggressively competitive posture. In 2018, the news surfaced that Under Armour executives would take colleagues and clients to strip clubs and expense the cost. The practice has since been banned.
The once-high flying Under Armour has also seen its growth slow and founder Kevin Plank this month relinquished the chief executive officer title to Patrik Frisk, the former ceo of the Aldo Group, who joined the company in 2017. Plank continues as executive chairman and brand chief.
At the presentation, Frisk, said Under Armour is “very clear on who we are,” a “human performance company” and it is not going to deviate from that mission.
“We began by giving people the superpowers to believe in the things they can achieve,” he said. And that will continue as Under Armour focuses on “athletic performance” despite the fact that “other brands may not be as dedicated” to that segment of the market any more.
Frisk said achieving its goal will continue to revolve around creating innovative product as well as offering sustainability solutions as Under Armour takes its human performance message around the world.
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