Under Armour has named Zambezi as its creative agency globally to lead creative development for 2023 brand campaigns. The independent agency won the business following a pitch process that ended in May. Interpublic Group of Cos.' MullenLowe is believed to have also participated, according to multiple people close to the situation. MullenLowe was unavailable for comment.
Under Armour hires Zambezi as global creative agency
Over the past couple of years, the athletic wear company has handled work through its in-house agency, including its 2020 campaign “The Only Way is Through." During that time it also collaborated with agencies on a project basis, and prior to that, the company worked with Droga5.
“As a consumer-first organization, we are excited to partner with Zambezi to help us deliver our 2023 brand campaigns aimed to strengthen consideration and favorability with athletes through the journey to compete,” Paul Nugent, senior VP, global brand management at Under Armour, said in an emailed statement.
“At Under Armour, we are proud to stand for equality, and so we were delighted that in addition to their fantastic work, Zambezi is a woman-owned business," he added.
Jean Freeman is Zambezi's principal and CEO.
The appointment follows a recent adjustment in some of Under Armour’s financial expectations. The company cut its fiscal 2023 profit forecast last week, citing a rise in promotions and discounting as athletic wear companies respond to “more significant inflationary pressures” in the second half, Colin Browne, Under Armour’s interim president and CEO, said on a conference call.
The company now expects to earn 61 cents to 67 cents per share in the current fiscal year, down from earlier guidance of 79 cents to 84 cents. It still expects 5% to 7% revenue growth.
“We assume the market will be very promotional,” Browne said on the call. “And we will need to participate in many of these promotions, which is the primary factor for our margin call down. However, we are taking the time to assess where we're at and where we need to be and how we want to reposition ourselves for more significant top-line growth in years to come.”
The expectation is bolstered by the fact that the company is starting to see supply chain issues ease up, which Dave Bergman, chief financial officer for Under Armour, said will likely lead to “a lot of inventory coming in with all the brands.”
The company will be strategic in how it rolls out its discounts and promotions since it has been focused on positioning itself as a premium brand over the past few years, Bergman added.
“We know that demand is going to be a little challenged relative to inflation and the amount of wallet available," Bergman said on the call. “So we've got to be able to play into that. And so although we're not excited about being more promotional, we're going to do it a very strategic way. A lot of it is going to be focused on our outlet business, where consumers are kind of always expecting those deals.”
Ad Age’s Datacenter ranked Under Armour 147th in its 2022 Leading National Advertisers report, with estimated U.S. ad spending of $402 million, although on the recent earnings company executives pegged its marketing budget as more than $600 million. Last year, the athletic wear brand spent $649.2 million on “advertising expense, including amortization of in-store marketing fixtures and displays,” according to its 2021 10-K filing.
Kevin Plank, executive chairman and brand chief, also mentioned on the call that Under Armour will be launching a “new footwear platform” this coming fall which was inspired by “a very simple athlete insight.”
The brand is a significant win for the independent agency, which has clients like Traeger Grills and TaylorMade.
"Under Armour shares a true spirit of collaboration, which was evident throughout the pitch process,” Freeman said in a statement. “We have huge passion for the brand, the partnership and the opportunity to develop powerful communications, continuing Under Armour's legacy of building deep connections with consumers across the globe.”