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Under Armour Key Players

Supplied by Under Armour

Kevin Plank & Patrik Frisk interview

interviewWe go head-to-head with Under Armour's founder and CEO, Kevin Plank and current president, Patrik Frisk about The Rock, Steph Curry and much more.

How does Under Armour differentiate itself from the other leading sportswear brands?

Under Armour is unique in its foundation, it wasn’t in the immediate stretch that we were trying to figure out how we can make ourselves different, we were different from day one.

Entering the sporting goods market, the world wasn’t looking for another athletic brand, so Under Armour invented an entire category called ‘performance apparel’.

Adidas got into the industry with the invention of the football boot in 1954. Nike made the shoe for running. And Under Armour came in because we looked at apparel and said it should be better, athletes should expect more.

There’s more to performance than just thinking it can be improved through better footwear, so why shouldn’t we think about our apparel that way? Any product we make should be special, unique, innovative and different.

We continue to take things and put flags in the ground. Like our commitment to athleticism and being the best technical performance brand in the world. We make athletes better at every step.

We’re only 23 years old. This makes us us the youngest brand in the world to have set and broken records in our industry, and we’re just getting started.

How do UA choose its ambassadors?

Over the last few years, how you engage with athletes in general and how you influence has evolved. In the beginning there was a really heavy focus around team sports so that’s where we were rooted and that’s where we believed we would get all our authenticity from.

Around the world, there are various ways to think about how you can influence the consumer and what’s important to the consumer. We see it as a pyramid of team sports and athletes, we aimed for the top of this, which we considered ‘inspirational’.

We have certain types of influencers at the top. People like Michael Phelps – the greatest Olympian of all time. Or Tom Brady – best American football player of all time.

Then you move down a notch. This is where you get that personal trainer, the guy that’s working out at the gym or the college football quarterback. If you want to be effective as a brand you need to move within that entire pyramid.

Personal fitness and wellness have started to move more to Dubai. People here just want to make sure that they are feeling good and staying active.

We have evolved as a brand over the years. Today we think through the entire 24-hour journey for our consumer. We want to be there for them, not just when they’re training and competing, but every situation before and after.

Under Armour interview - The Rock

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Under Armour Having the most recognisable person on the planet as an ambassador is no mean feat

Under Armour interview - Prototype

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Under Armour The prototype tee that started it all

What and how much input do the likes of The Rock and Steph Curry have on UA products? 

They have incredible input in specifically making sure things meet their standards or not.

Take the headphones we launched with The Rock for example. Five years of innovation went into building that product. We then introduced them to him, which resulted in us finishing our testing through his approval process. As opposed to us saying we want to stick your logo on this headphone and sell it. That’s the DNA that goes into every product that we build.

He then told us “these are truly the greatest headphones in the world”.

With Steph Curry’s footwear line, he was intimately involved with everything from concept to final product, which is an 18-month process.

Overall, they’re constantly part of the process. Our testing program that makes us different. We aren’t just sticking logos on basic silhouettes, it’s not just designing, it’s engineering the finer details of how this is going to enhance performance.

Tell us a little about the Virgin Galactic partnership…

I’m thrilled and proud to be in partnership with them. I’ve known Richard (Branson) for nearly a decade and he’s a great human being – an entrepreneur that I think everyone around the world looks up to.

It’s inspiring to see the way he’s pressing the vision. What we can do with something like space travel and more importantly making it commercial space and giving us access to all of it.

As far as space travel, they have a full list of  around 600 people right now. I can’t wait to see it happen.

Every product that we are building for the astronauts and the pilots themselves will be available to buy at fall 2019. That’s what makes Under Armour unique and different is that there’s so much science and technology that goes into everything we make.

It’s not just basic t-shirts. It’s not just the logo that makes it Under Armour, it’s the technology that exists long before we put our name to it.

What business lessons have you learned along the UA journey?

There are so many! We always celebrate and appreciate the victories, no matter how small. We’ve had a lot of really great years and we’ve done a lot of amazing things, including impacting and changing lives. What we’ve done in our own backyard and in our community in Baltimore, humbles us a lot.

Something I’m very proud of is the recent building of a new health and recreation centre called UA house in East Baltimore. This is a place which has been really heavily afflicted over time, but now we’re able outfit the athletes there.

I want every consumer to feel like when they put on an Under Armour shirt that they actually improve themselves. We are not selling a product we are selling hope and hopefully, more importantly, we are giving that.

That’s the kind of energy that goes into every product build and we hope that people think “yes, I really understand this brand”.

END OF INTERVIEW

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