pic via ABC News
I recently wrote that Under Armour should not have let Sloane walk. I felt that an endorsement of her was a shot in the right direction in building rapport with a critical audience of growing women athletes, black women. Sloane dropped her 8th in the Australian Open and logic would say that Under Armour made a correct assessment and that Sloane would be a risk considering that when she won her Grand Slam she had been injury prone and wasn’t even ranked very highly. Her Grand Slam was an anomaly and not the projected path for her career. Nike obviously thought otherwise and signed Sloan to an endorsement deal.
Who made the right decision? When we measure tennis players we look at their singles titles. Sloane has won 5 Singles titles and only 1 Grand Slam title. There isn’t any comparison to Serena because Serena has won 23. I think that is what is happening here. There may be some people who see the 8 losses as a justification for why Under Armour chose to let Sloane walk. The reality is tennis is an extremely difficult sport. Even Venus Williams lost in the first round of the Australian Open this weekend. Sloane is a professional athlete with an amazing story. She is fit, and she’s made a considerable amount of money.
Nike understands the athletes burden, especially in individual sports. The company was built on track and field and the narrative of Prefontaine. The spirit of competition and fitness and the power of sport drives the values of the Swoosh. When Sloane lost this weekend here were her words, “I always try to be the best person I can, the best version of me,” she said. “Like I said, you’ll be rewarded. Tough times don’t last. When I had foot surgery in January , I thought it was the worst thing ever. It was like I was being punished for whatever reason. But I really wasn’t being punished. It was just, I was being set up for something greater. That’s kind of how you’ve got to look at it.”
This is the person that Under Armour let walk away. Did Under Armour get it right? No. Character is strength. Sloane is an excellent endorser and she’s only 24 years old. Her record overall is 232-158. I think she’s gonna be alright.