By Chris Korman
5:45 PM EST, February 12, 2013
Baltimore-based Under Armour hosted a press event in New York City Tuesday to introduce what the company has dubbed "its biggest ever global marketing campaign."
While the new "I Will" campaign recalls the old "Will you protect this house?" commercial that first helped the company become popular -- the respondents always answered "I will!" -- the new spot released Tuesday focuses on an area that has become increasingly important: high-end technology and innovation.
Let's just say that the commercial ends with a woman adjusting the composition and color of her clothing by using a touch screen built into her sleeve. That kind of high-end technology and innovation.
Of course no such product exists yet -- nor is anything of the sort actually in the works, according to CEO and founder Kevin Plank -- but the message is clear: Under Armour wants you to think of it as the company constantly pushing to find ways to make your life as an athlete better. This doesn't deviate much from the founding principle of the company -- faster-drying fabric -- but it does represent an elevation of the concept.
The company also released details on its Armour 39 product line, which has been in the works for several years and focuses on measuring "will power." The product -- a tiny diagnostic computer that you wear strapped around your chest -- monitors heart rate, calories burned and intensity, and ultimately produces a "WILLpower" score. There are, as you could probably guess, several proprietary and advanced algorithms involved in all this.
The product costs $149.99, and you can download a free application onto your phone or tablet that will deliver the diagnostics. If you'd prefer not to use that method, a watch is available for $200 that syncs with the device and provides readings.
Under Armour first introduced the concept of rating the quality of an athlete's exertion in February 2011, when it fitted players bound for the NFL combine with shirts containing small computers like the ones that will now hit the retail market as Armour 39.
A pre-order sale for Armour 39 will begin on the company's website Friday, but the product won't be available until March. It will be sold through the online store and exclusively -- at least at first -- at the Under Armour Brand House scheduled to open Saturday in Harbor East.
Here's a video introducing Armour 39.
And here's the new commercial. It's interesting to note that much of it centers on Canelo Alvarez, the young Mexican light middleweight WBC champion. Well-known in boxing circles and his home country, he's yet to make a huge impact in the United States. But he fits the upstart, underdog image that Plank has cultivated (and reaches into markets into which the company would like to continue expanding). That's also why Sloane Stevens, the only ranked teenager in pro tennis, appears. Baseball player Bryce Harper is, by now, a mainstream force, and basketball star Kemba Walker is still remembered for leading Connecticut to a national championship in 2011. So it's an interesting mix of endorsers. All, though, appear in rustic, simple training settings -- augmented, of course, by Under Armour technology.
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