Under Armour's stock fell 35% last Thursday and Friday after a Wachovia Capital Markets analyst questioned the marketer's decision to back its new cross-trainer line with a 60-second ad during the game's first quarter with the economy apparently heading into recession.
The Baltimore Sun -- Under Armour's hometown paper -- calculated that the company lost $721 million in market capitalization during the two days following the report. The stock rebounded today, however, rising about 10% after analysts at several other investment houses called the sudden decline an overreaction.
The market volatility highlights the tremendous stakes for Under Armour, which is likely spending close to $5 million on the spot, nearly a third of its entire $15.7 million 2006 media outlay. TNS Media Intelligence doesn't yet have an estimate for Under Armour's 2007 media spending, but the company said spending has kept pace with its fast-climbing sales since then.
The Super Bowl spot is intended to promote the company's new cross-trainers, its first foray into non-cleated footwear and an essential piece of its plan to keep sales shooting skyward. "I can't think of a better platform for a major launch," said Steve Battista, Under Armour's VP-brand. "You can't deny the amount of impressions you're going to get."
Adding further intrigue to the spot is that the product it's hawking isn't even available yet. After the ad airs, Under Armour's website -- as well as the sites of major footwear retailers -- will begin accepting preorders for the shoes. The company will try to further fuel sales by adding 90-day countdown clocks at retailers as well as other digital efforts to generate buzz leading up to the May release of the shoes.
Asked to describe the spot, Mr. Battista said it would be an "epic" featuring two dozen recognizable athletes, none of whom would be identified. It also will be the first Under Armour ad to feature male and female athletes side by side, leading to the curious juxtaposition of menacing Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and the likes of figure skater Kimmie Meissner. Under Armour handles its advertising in-house, though it recently tapped Deutsch to handle PR and brand consulting.
As with past Under Armour campaigns, which added phrases such as "Protect This House" and "Click Clack" to the sports lexicon, this spot comes with its own catchphrase, said Mr. Battista, who declined to identify it.
The spot, he said, will have a similar look and feel to past Under Armour creative, which Mr. Battista acknowledged has tended to be edgier and less humorous than most high-scoring Super Bowl ads.
"Obviously the humorous slapstick spots work very well" in the Super Bowl, Mr. Battista said. "But the epic nature of a minute-long spot and the message we're delivering will make for a very memorable Super Bowl ad."