Believe it or not, but Under Armour only has two players being sponsored by the company, and none of them are household names, nor do they even play so-called “glamour” positions, such as striker. Neither player plays for a team that could be considered a major contender, either. If one would ask, these players are Cameroon defender Benoit Assou-Ekotta, and Mexico backup goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera. While these two are obviously good players, they’ll never be confused with the Neymars, Cristiano Ronaldos, and Robin van Persies of World Cup 2014.
That said, a new blog post from Bloomberg Businessweek mentioned those two players to underscore the opinion that Under Armour is not “in attack mode” as a World Cup 2014 sponsor. In fact, the company is “shockingly silent” at the event, despite its very vocal plans of expanding its market share and competing more fiercely with the likes of Adidas and Nike. And even the two players endorsing Under Armour at World Cup 2014 haven’t been making much noise either, with recent tweets from Assou-Ekotta serving as a token “plug” for the company, as he posted photos of the shoes he will be using in his team’s games. As for Under Armour, the company has launched what seems to be a rather peculiar campaign – asking consumers via Twitter to “let them know who you’re rooting for” and plugging its Country Pride collection of Superman-themed t-shirts.
Earlier in the week, Under Armour was playing it very coy when asked about its marketing strategy vis-à-vis World Cup 2014, as it merely confirmed that the aforementioned players – all two of them – would be wearing its boots. Again, this seems rather peculiar from Under Armour, as the company has built up its net worth to $12.5 billion thanks to aggressive promotion and equally aggressively-themed athlete endorsements. And it should also be mentioned that the new Under Armour Clutchfit FG cleats are priced at $175, and are marketed with a number of soccer player-friendly buzzwords.
Another talking point mentioned by Bloomberg was how Under Armour was trumped, not only by big companies like Nike and Adidas, but also by much smaller companies in the athletic equipment space. For example, Costa Rica is outfitted by Lotto jerseys, while Belgium’s kits are sponsored by Swiss company Burrda, a rather new apparel maker that hasn’t been in the business for that long compared to Under Armour.
But even with Under Armour beaten by the big and the small alike, the company seems intent on expanding its business to South America, including to Brazil, the host country for World Cup 2014. “Brazil is a region with a rich athletic history and focuses on sports as a part of everyday life,” read prepared remarks from Under Armour managing director for Brazil Marcelo Ferreira at the time of the launch. “As the nation prepares to host the world’s biggest sporting events, this is an exciting opportunity for Under Armour to identify with the passion Brazilians have for active lifestyles and to provide them with the most innovative performance products in the market.”