Under Armour is releasing a new marketing campaign that features Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and international athletes in an effort to find new revenue outside its longtime focus North America, where growth is slowing. The work will run in China and Europe as well as the U.S. The athletes are also perhaps more accessible than the brand's typical superstar endorsers, such as Stephen Curry or Tom Brady.
"Sometimes, because we're an elite performance brand, we may not reach the everyday, hardworking athletes around the world," says Adrienne Lofton, senior VP for global brand management at Under Armour. "For Under Armour, Dwayne is the representation of the masses, the motivator of all people, all things—that's where he's always shined."
In a 75-second digital video, Johnson introduces athletes including Zoe Zhang, an actress from China with martial arts skills; Yusra Mardini, a Syrian who swam on the Refugee Olympic Team; and Johnny Agar, who trains for sporting competitions despite his cerebral palsy.
The new effort will be Under Armour's most expensive campaign yet, according to Lofton, an eight-year veteran of the brand, though she declined to be more specific. Last year, Under Armour spent $565.1 million on advertising, an 18 percent increase from 2016, according to the company's financial documents.
As more competitors sell the kind of athleisure wear that fueled Under Armour's rise, the company has struggled to maintain growth. Under Armour also had a hiccup earlier this year when it disclosed a massive data breach from its MyFitnessPal app.
Fourth-quarter revenue increased 5 percent to $1.4 billion, though Under Armour reported a net loss of $88 million. Executives have said they expect markets outside the U.S. to grow by 25 percent in 2018.
"Our biggest growth is coming from international markets," says Lofton. "Part of my team's job is to show up and behave as a global brand."
"It's an interesting transition, evolution we've all been experiencing together," she adds.
Under Armour worked with Droga5 on the new, year-long campaign, which includes more than 400 pieces of digital content; Seven Bucks Creative, the ad agency founded by Johnson and his business partner Dany Garcia last year, was also involved in its creation. Digitas handled media duties. Johnson first inked a deal with Under Armour in 2015. He debuted his latest Project Rock product collaboration with Under Armour earlier this year.
Despite the shift in focus, Under Armour stars including Curry and Brady will still be involved, amplifying the campaign with their own social media channels. Johnson will do the same with his 180 million followers. Consumers are also encouraged to click through banner ads and social channels to directly purchase products.
~ ~ ~
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said Dwayne Johnson introduced his Project Rock product collaboration with Under Armour earlier this year. That was just the latest installment; the first Under Armour Project Rock products came out in 2016.