Under Armour and the Art of Authenticity
BY Mike Hofman
Under Armour, the now ubiquitous apparel company that graced the Inc. 500 back in 2003, was the subject of a recent New York Times profile. The paper holds the company up as an example of the power of cultivating an extreme brand positioning in order to create a sense of authenticity with mainstream consumers.
"[W]hile the Under Armour marketing machine likes to evoke Mr. Plank's rough and tumble football background, the company has been as cunning as a chess pro in cultivating its image and fan base," the Times asserts. "This is apparent in its testosterone-juiced "Protect This House" television ads featuring hugely built football players (like the fearsome-looking N.F.L. veterans Eric Ogbogu or Ray Lewis) sweating, shouting and working up as if for battle. Extreme as they are, they send a message of authenticity (one of Mr. Plank's favorite words) and aggression to a select audience, unlike ads from sporting goods giants like Nike and Reebok aimed at more general audiences."
MIKE HOFMAN was previously editor of Inc.com and a deputy editor at Inc. magazine, which he joined in 1996. The site was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Digital Media in 2010, and was named the best business website by Folio Magazine. In 2006, Hofman was part of a team of writers nominated for a Webby Award for best business blog. He lives in New York City. @mikehofman