Under Armour’s star presence

Under Armour, a manufacturer/marketer of high-performance athletic apparel, has made it to the big screen. Al Pacino’s character and the fictional football team he coached in Oliver Stone’s movie Any Given Sunday wore the form-fitting apparel, as did Keanu Reeves’s quarterback character in the recently released The Replacements, says Under Armour account executive KC Culley.

Kevin Plank, founder/president of the Baltimore-based company, says he initiated a relationship with Warner Bros., the studio that produced both films, in August 1998 after a friend told him he was going to Los Angeles to try out for Any Given Sunday. Plank sent samples of Under Armour’s product to the casting director, who in turn gave the company the contract and introduced it to Los Angeles-based Sports Robe, the company responsible for wardrobe and uniforms on the set. Working in conjunction with Sports Robe, Under Armour found itself signing a contract for The Replacements in June 1999. It didn’t hurt that The Replacements was filmed in the PSINet Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens and across the street from the Under Armour office.

The product placement has paid off for Under Armour, Plank says. For example, in a locker room scene in Any Given Sunday, actor Jamie Foxx’s football player character is undressing in the locker room; at one point, the camera pans to a two-inch space on Foxx’s high-tech jock strap, which boasts the Under Armour logo. Plank says the number of hits on the company’s Website rose appreciably after the film was released.

From Hollywood to Sydney Actors aren’t the only stars wearing Under Armour. The nearly five-year-old company also sponsored and outfitted the U.S. archery team in its quest for Olympic Gold at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.

Plank hopes that such sponsorships and big-screen appearances enable Under Armour to promote the benefits of its form-fitting apparel, which holds muscles in place while allowing appendages to move freely during workouts, without the trapped heat and moisture typical with cotton T-shirts. “We want to educate customers so that they are not afraid of the apparel,” Plank says.

To that end, the company updated its Website in July to provide consumers with detailed product information, as well as full transactional capabilities. While the goal of the interactive site is to complement Under Armour’s retail and catalog business and its product offerings in the Eastbay athletic gear catalog, Plank defines his ultimate goal as “getting people out of cotton Ts that don’t do anything.”

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