Despite being one of the leading sports brands in North America, Under Armour’s brand recognition in the UK and across Europe falls some way behind. So, when Under Armour athlete and World Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua faced off against future hall-of-famer Wladimir Klitschko in the UK’s biggest ever boxing bout, it provided a fantastic opportunity for the Baltimore-based brand to launch itself into the UK’s consciousness. Our brief was simple, cut-through the hubris and noise surrounding the fight to deliver a brand piece that would provide both sporting and cultural penetration for Under Armour in the UK and beyond.
With such a crowded media space, cluttered by both official and unofficial fight partners, we took the decision to gamble on an execution that could only be activated in the event of an Anthony Joshua victory, thus avoiding the pre-fight scramble for space.
With authenticity and athlete-first activation at the heart of the Under Armour brand, we capitalised on Anthony Joshua’s position as a well-known supporter of the UK’s grime scene to partner with Kano – one of the ‘Godfathers of Grime’ and one of AJ’s favourite artists. Kano was briefed to write, deliver and perform a spoken-word tribute to Anthony Joshua that both encapsulated AJ’s journey to sporting immortality and Under Armour’s ‘I WILL’ pledge - a forward-facing, inspiring statement that aims to push athletes to better themselves via a young, aggressive and fearless mindset.
With lyrics finalised, our next step was to produce a miniature music video to accompany the piece. Working against the clock, we produced a stripped-back, ‘less is more’ creative – providing greater emphasis on Kano’s ability to deliver the emotional tribute with passion and conviction rather than becoming reliant on backing melodies or distracting visuals. The end product was a powerful, emotive piece that successfully embodied the qualities that Under Armour aspire to deliver and those that AJ demonstrates in the ring. All we needed now was for Anthony Joshua to win his fight…
As soon as Anthony Joshua’s dramatic 11th Round victory was secured, we released the tribute via Under Armour’s social channels and then to online media in the immediate aftermath of the victory. With Anthony Joshua and Kano also sharing the video, the piece gathered 100,000 views in a couple of hours, causing it to ‘trend’ on YouTube.
Mainstream media coverage soon followed with the likes of the Daily Mail Online, Sun Online, ESPN, Mirror Online, Complex, GRM Daily and Hypebeast all covering the video’s release – clearly demonstrating that the video had delivered beyond mainstream sporting titles and provided a cultural moment too as the nation’s most influential music and lifestyle sites paid homage to the tribute. This effect was also replicated on social media sites with the likes of MOBO Awards, SBTV and The BPI also sharing the piece, providing a brand new audience for Under Armour.
With the piece amassing nearly 10m views across all channels by the end of the week, Under Armour HQ made the decision to bring the creative (which had been delivered by our client, Under Armour Europe) stateside. After a quick repurpose and edit, the video went from an online creative to a TV advert played in the breaks of the NBA Play-Off finals – reaching an estimated audience of 44.5m viewers. A massive international splash? I will.