Even before Under Armour announced plans last year to cut marketing costs and renegotiate athlete endorsement deals, the Baltimore brand and ballet dancer Misty Copeland had parted ways.
The sports apparel maker said Monday that the partnership with Copeland, a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, ended in 2019.
“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished together during our partnership, and incredibly grateful to Misty for helping us evolve beyond traditional sports and into new arenas,” the company said in a statement.
Under Armour did not respond to questions why the agreement with Copeland was discontinued. A spokeswoman for Copeland could not be reached.
Last May, as the coronavirus pandemic began to exacerbate the brand’s struggles with sales and product demand, Under Armour said it was renegotiating athlete endorsers’ contracts.
“We’ve been negotiating and working with them, and we’ve been able to get some extended payment terms there, which are helpful just in general with our overall capital preservation efforts,” David Bergman, Under Armour’s chief financial officer, said at the time without disclosing details on specific athletes.
Just before the Super Bowl last month, Under Armour said it was dropping an on-field contract with the National Football League but that it has no plans to end or change its endorsement deal with legendary quarterback Tom Brady, who led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl title.
Under Armour had announced plans in June to back out of a record $280 million contract outfitting UCLA athletes. The university then sued Under Armour.
In an earnings report Feb. 10, the company said that cost cutting and strong online sales allowed it to turn in a stronger-than-expected financial performance for the final months of 2020, delivering a profitable quarter.
Copeland had been the face of Under Armour in marketing campaigns designed to attract more women customers. The trailblazing ballerina, who became American Ballet Theatre’s first female African-American principal dancer in 2015, signed on with Under Armour in early 2014.
The dancer was featured in a nearly $15 million Under Armour marketing campaign, the biggest of 2014 for women’s apparel, as the brand worked to expand sales in that category.
She appeared with other female athletes in “I Will What I Want,” designed to underscore the apparel maker’s commitment to designing for female athletes and athletic females alike in the 18-to 34-year-old age range.
An Under Armour senior vice president at the time described the athlete as a “game changer” in both ballet and for the brand.
Leanne Fremar, who served as a senior vice president and executive creative director, said Copeland would represent the brand’s strategy of infusing performance gear with style, and that she was “changing the world’s view of what it means to be a world-class ballerina. She brings a modern athleticism to a very traditional art form and pushes the boundaries of the status quo definition of the word ‘athlete.’”
In 2018, Copeland launched a fall collection of her signature apparel line, which she had introduced earlier that year. It included outfits designed to go from yoga class to the office.
The Baltimore Business Journal first reported the end of Under Armour’s relationship with Copeland.