Under Armour to sign A$AP Rocky as face of lifestyle division
Under Armour has found a new face for the brand in rapper A$AP Rocky. According to Susquehanna analyst, the Baltimore-based company has signed the New York City-born rapper to lead the company’s new lifestyle initiative.
A$AP Rocky checks off several criteria for Under Armour. CEO Kevin Plank admitted that Under Armour lacked a certain “cool” factor that other athletic companies possess. Rocky’s ‘Leader of the new school’ image has made designers and brands such as Raf Simons, Rick Owens and Hood by Air popular names among younger consumers. The rapper could have a similar effect on Under Armour in a way that Tom Brady, Stephen Curry, Michael Phelps, Andy Murray, Cam Newton and Misty Copeland did not. Each athlete has been a catalyst for positive sales results, but lack the “cool” that casual customers cling to.
Secondly, Under Armour’s competitors have top name entertainers as brand ambassadors, whereas the athletic company seemed to only attract athletes. Nike aligned itself with comedian Kevin Hart in recent years, Adidas thrived on partnerships with Kanye West and Pharrell Williams and recently signed West’s sister in law, Kendall Jenner, to a brand ambassador deal. Kendall’s sister, Kylie, is one of three ambassadors for Puma, alongside The Weeknd and Rihanna, the latter in which has had a substantial effect on the brand. Even Skechers has Demi Lovato and Meghan Trainor.
Under Armour announced a partnership with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in 2016, and although he is one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, he was an athlete first, having played football for the Miami Hurricanes in college before becoming one of World Wrestling Entertainment’s most popular superstars.
Being an athlete seemed like the top criteria for Under Armour ambassadorship, even when the company signed Gisele Bundchen. The Brazilian fashion model is the most famous name in Under Armour’s non-athlete ambassador roster that includes Youtuber Philip Dinh and Swedish musician Johan Hegg of death metal band Amon Amarth. However, none come close to Nike, Adidas and Puma’s respective ambassadors like A$AP Rocky, who has collaborated with Kanye, The Weeknd and Rihanna on projects in the past, and is reportedly dating Kendall Jenner.
The third criteria Rocky checks off his legitimacy in fashion. The rapper entered the scene name-dropping designers and labels that he wears on a regular basis. Since then, Rocky has appeared in Dior Homme campaigns, collaborated with Adidas, and had an ongoing collaboration with Guess.
Rocky as the face of Under Armour’s lifestyle division is an opportunity to better showcase the company’s Under Armour Sportswear line that is designed by Tim Coppens. Nike, Adidas and Puma benefit from customers wearing their athletic footwear very casually, while Under Armour's footwear have been built for only competition and not so much for leisure. Rocky could have an influence on the design of Under Armour footwear and how the brand is worn.
The news is expected to have an impact on the company as well. Poser raised his price target for Under Armour from $14 to $17, which could beat analysts’ expectations for the company’s second quarter earnings.
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