Marketing 50

Under Armour

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Four years ago, sports apparel company Under Armour was a youngster just turning a corner.

Today, the Baltimore-based company has not only turned the corner, it has raced up the street. Back then, VP-Marketing Steve Battista and CEO Kevin Plank couldn't imagine using celebrity endorsers for their unique product, a line of apparel made of microfiber fabric that fit snugly around an athlete's upper body, like a second skin. The microfibers "wick" sweat away from the body and through the outside of the shirt, where it evaporates or runs off. But the apparel proved to be so popular with pro athletes that Mr. Battista came up with an in-house ad campaign with a catchy, macho tagline: "Protect this house."

The upshot? Under Armour went from $20 million in revenue in 2001 to $242 million for the period ended June 30 of this year.

Under Armour now makes more than 300 products and has forced the big boys in the industry to play catchup. Nike has since introduced Dri-Fit, Reebok has Hydromove and Adidas has ClimaLite, but Under Armour remains the dominant player in the performance apparel category.

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