Under Armour endorser Tom Brady has taken on a new role for the marketer -- pitching its new futuristic sleepwear line in a shopping channel spoof by Funny or Die.
The so-called athlete recovery sleepwear is a serious proposition by Under Armour, which is seeking to extend its relevance beyond the field and into the bedroom. The company debuted the line this week at CES in Las Vegas. It is branded as "powered by TB12," a reference to Mr. Brady's performance brand.
The clothing is lined with bioceramic particles that "absorb infrared wavelengths emitted by the body and reflect back far-infrared, helping the body recover faster while promoting better sleep," according to a press release issued this week. Merriam Webster defines far-infrared as the "longer wavelengths of radiation in the infrared spectrum." In other words, these ain't your grandpa's pajamas.
On its retail web site Under Armour states that the sleepwear "helps your body recover faster, promote better sleep, reduce inflammation and regulate cell metabolism."
For Under Armour, it's a pretty esoteric pitch. And it might be harder for consumers to grasp than the moisture-wicking shirts that gave the sports apparel marketer its start in the 1990s. But Under Armour is counting on the marketing prowess of Mr. Brady to win attention in the highly competitive sportswear market.
"It really does help people sleep better … and then feel better the next day," said Kevin Haley, Under Armour's president of innovation and category management. "We feel like this is a serious technology that really works. But we also try to not to take ourselves too seriously, so we have a little Tom Brady parody just to have fun with it."
The Funny or Die video shows Mr Brady showing off the sleepwear on the mythical "QBC Network." Two hosts exchange mindless banter and bad jokes while sneaking in real pitches for the actual product. The sleepwear is "uniquely designed to improve blood flow as you rest," a male host says, before adding that "coincidentally I wish someone could have improved the blood flow in my marriage."
The video will get paid support on funnyordie.com, according to an Under Armour spokeswoman.
Under Armour credits the New England Patriots star with co-developing the sleepwear. Mr. Brady brought the technology to Under Armour's attention, citing a gel sleeve that he wore to heal a calf injury in 2014. The sleeve made use of the bioceramic technology.
"He was amazed at the recovery," Mr. Haley said. So Under Armour began exploring a way to imbed the technology -- or print it -- "in a light soft way all over a garment," he said. "So you'd have increased surface area, you'd be able to sleep in it every night, so you'd get the hours and hours of benefit." He added that Under Armour "worked really closely with Tom to make sure it was the right weight of fabric, not too tight, not too loose."
The clothing is priced from $80 to $100 and is available through the brand's web site and in Under Armour's retail stores. On Friday morning, Under Armour sent an email blast to consumers directing them to its ecommerce site, where the clothing is plugged as "Tom Brady's secret to recovery" beside a photo of him sleeping. Under Armour endorser Misty Copeland is also shown sleeping in the clothing.
Under Armour this week also released an update to its UA Record mobile app that includes a "sleep recovery system." Users can wear a band that monitors sleep, with the app producing a "proprietary 14-day sleep score" that assesses the quality of sleep.
"By monitoring trends within our 'Connected Fitness' communities, we've seen an uptick in athletes who are adopting a 24/7 training mentality, which led us to think about factors like sleep and recovery and how important they are to overall performance," Mike Lee, Under Armour's chief digital officer, said in the press release.
Under Armour this week also debuted a new line of so-called connected footwear that syncs with its MapMyRun mobile app. One feature, called the jump test, measures a user's muscular fatigue level by measuring the average air time of a sequence of jumps. The output "helps track an athlete's recovery status over time and provides immediate guidance on how to alter the intensity of a workout," according to Under Armour.