“It’s not about pushing product—we’ve done that. We want to inspire people with this creative to join us with this movement,” said Giselle Lewis-Archibald, global creative director at Under Armour, noting that when growing up in the Caribbean, she did not have access to many sports. “We want to make sure people feel inspired.”
The new grassroots approach to supporting younger players comes at a time when Under Armour appears to be shifting its strategy away from some of the large college and university sponsorship deals it has pursued in the past. In 2020, Under Armour invested $361.6 million in sponsorships, including with professional teams, leagues, colleges and universities and athletes—nearly 50% less than its 2019 investment, according to corporate financial filings. While the decline could be partially attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, which wreaked havoc on the college sports scene during its first year, multiple news reports have cited a pullback from college sponsorships by Under Armour. That pullback includes the renegotiation of an apparel deal with the Cincinnati Bearcats, according to Sportico. Under Armour has three of the 20 most valuable NCAA sponsorship deals, according to a recent report in Columbus Business First—but two will expire in 2026 and one in 2025. Nike has the most at nine, according to the report. Under Armour is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with UCLA where the university alleges the sprotswear brand breached its contract by not moving forward with an outfitting deal worth $280 million.
When asked if the new campaign represents a strategy shift away from big university deals, an Under Armour spokeswoman said: “Under Armour is committed to sports at all levels and will continue providing our innovative products to all athletes, while also continuing to offer events and experiences that recognize and elevate athletes as they work towards their daily goals.” But she added, “We understand that to get to the collegiate level, you need to have access to sport at a young age, which is why we are making this commitment to support more youth athletes on their journey to compete.”