The Armoury What's new with Baltimore sports apparel maker Under Armour

Why we don’t hear Under Armour's Kevin Plank say ‘Nike’

Just as coaches from some football teams such as Ohio State generally decline to utter the name of their chief rival, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank will rarely if ever publicly say “Nike.”

He calls his company’s adversary “my competition” or something similar.

Most other Under Armour executives won’t say “Nike” either, using a generic term instead.

Earlier this summer, we asked Under Armour why. The company referred the question to Kerry Chandler, its chief human resources officer, who responded in an email:

Q: We’ve never heard Kevin Plank say “Nike” or “Adidas,” referring to them instead as “our competitors” or the like? Do other executives also refrain from using the name of Nike or Adidas?

A: We are of course aware of our competition and respect them, however we’re focused on what we are doing to build our brand right here in Baltimore and around the world; we honestly just don’t feel the need to name them too often. It’s easy to tune out the outside noise when there’s so much good work to be done to protect our house and to better our team, community and athletes everywhere!

Nike declined comment.

Plank is famously competitive about Nike. He told NBC News recently that he used to send a Christmas card to Nike co-founder Phil Knight reading: “You will know our name.”

Earlier this year, we asked Adidas to weigh in on Under Armour not identifying its rivals by name.

“I don’t know. I think it’s kind of childish myself,” said Mark King, president of Adidas North America.

“You know, at the end of the day, Under Armour is a tough competitor. Nike is a tough competitor. Heck, there’s a lot of small brands. I mean the marketplace is tough,” King said. “What it really comes down to isn’t whether you use somebody’s name. It’s do you have great products, do you talk to the consumer the way they want, right?

“I’m a big fan of Kevin’s. I know him and I think he’s done an incredible job and I get the rallying. Believe me, we get all charged up when we beat Under Armour in a quarter or whatever it might be.”

jebarker@baltsun.com

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