Under Armour has signed its largest-ever sports deal, extending its partnership with U.S. Speedskating for another eight years. The original partnership, begun in 2011, had been set to end this year.
As part of the agreement, Under Armour will remain as the national team’s exclusive competition suit provider through 2022.
Part of Under Armour's relationship with U.S. Speedskating involves development of products like low-friction apparel -- "skin suits" -- and footwear and monitoring gear. The tech-provider relationship for Sochi has had its bumps: the suits Under Armour developed for the team with Lockheed Martin, called the Mach 39, got some unwanted attention when the U.S. team, considered the best and widely expected to win medals, did not. The rear vents on the suits, billed as the best racing suit in the history of the sport, were intended to cool the skaters, but were eyed as drag contributor.
Two-time gold medal-winner Shani Davis finished eighth in his 1,500-meter race, but didn't blame the company. In addition to supplying U.S. speedskaters, Under Armour also has uniform-exclusivity agreements with U.S.A. Bobsled and Skeleton, USA Gymnastics and Canada Snowboard.
Meanwhile, the company is also pushing into running shoes -- an area in which it has had to face established players and brand loyalty. The company launched its SpeedForm Apollo line with a takeover of Grand Central Terminal in New York last month, where it also unveiled a new ad campaign, “This Is What Fast Looks Like” under its global “I Will” brand umbrella.
Perhaps coincidentally -- given the company’s R&D association with aerospace company Lockheed Martin -- the spot was shot at the March Airfield Reserve base in Riverside, Calif.
The Baltimore-based company, which is advertising during the Olympics, has been promoting the new shoe with sports-event ad buys: the NFL Network's coverage of the Scouting Combine, and on ESPN's coverage of the Golden State Warriors vs. New York Knicks on Feb. 28.
The company’s last massive running shoe launch, it’s biggest ever up to that point, was in 2012 to tout its then-new Spine shoe with a campaign, “This is How We Run,” via Crispin Porter + Bogusky, which it tapped in 2011 as AOR.