How it came to him: Adjusting sound effects in a commercial
How it's changing his business: Writing the next chapter in the company's David vs. Goliath history
Some great ideas just start with a soundtrack. Steve Battista, VP-brand for Under Armour, the hot sporting-goods upstart, was working with Marcus Stephens, its creative director, and Kevin Plank, the former University of Maryland football player who founded the company, on the third incarnation of its "Protect This House" campaign. One sound effect-an evocative click-clack noise-caught their ear and wouldn't let go. "It's this very dramatic sound of players' cleats as they walk through the tunnel," Mr. Battista says. "At that point, we didn't even have a prototype, but we knew we'd be coming out next with a line of football cleats, our first entry into athletic footwear. We hinted at it in that spot with the line, 'I think you hear us coming."'
"Click-Clack" became the basis for the launch of the cleats. Like its "Protect This House" campaign, Mr. Battista says the concepts behind "Click-Clack" are part of the company's deliberate group thinking. "I never take credit for any idea-it just doesn't happen that way here." And the company doesn't use an ad agency. "After five years of working together, it seems like the three of us share the same brain anyway," Mr. Battista says.
The company hopes the new spot will have all the Hall of Fame qualities that "Protect This House" has had. "We were so nervous when we broke 'Protect This House' during the kickoff of the college season in 2001. We knew it was a good idea, but I don't think we ever dreamed how well it would catch on, and our ad budget was so small," he recalls. Under Armour was flooded with requests from schools, which wanted the script for pep rallies. "My personal favorite moment was when the chaplain from Notre Dame called and asked for the script [to use in a pregame homily]," Mr. Battista says. "That thrilled my Irish-Catholic mother!"