Under Armour Inc. struck another blow in the fight for exposure by inking a sponsorship deal with Major League Baseball that will put its logo on the chest of every jersey.
Matt Townsend wrote a very cool article on the 2020 takeover of MLB Jerseys by UA. Click the source link to read it. The most interesting aspect of this is for the first time there will be a logo on the front of the jersey. I really do understand how prominent this is. The idea of having that logo on the front of the jersey and UA becoming synonymous with America’s pastime is huge. Being seen during the World Series is big time, and as Plank said in the article fans who see the logo may be more likely to match their shoes to the jersey. Ummmm maybe…
When Reebok had the NFL jerseys people still wore Nike shoes. Adidas has had the NBA for years and Nike still dominated footwear in basketball. Baseball in my view is like Golf, it’s old, white and dying. I guess I could say it’s old, white, and young and brown and dying, but that would create a paradox and I don’t want to confuse myself.
We have a local affiliate team of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Memphis Redbirds. We go to the games as family outings. They are a great, kind of nostalgic memory for us and I’m sure other families, but the affiliate games and pro games, I used to work at Qualcomm and Petco, can be expensive for a family and the gear that was primarily worn in San Diego and in Memphis was and is always the giveaway shirts or tee shirts of some kind and a hat which was typically a New Era hat. People simply didn’t wear the jerseys. What’s even worse is I have seen people standing on corners selling baseball and NFL jerseys. Counterfeiting is a big time problem for jerseys. I’ve seen the Nike “police” take down entire flea markets and I don’t think UA will have the time to “police” the knock off market, but that isn’t the reason why I don’t think it matters.
Why This Deal Doesn’t Matter
I write at least once a week about the design of UA’s site and the problems I see with marketing. You can have the front of the jersey, like Reebok, like Adidas, but if you aren’t creating marketing campaigns then it’s simply throwing money in the air and hoping it covers all of the bases of promotion and conversion.
- Bryce Harper was the MVP in 2015. Under Armour did a spot. It’s on YouTube and it has been viewed 7505 times. Adam Jones is a Nike Athlete. He has Nike videos, but they are a part of a series. Combined they have been viewed over 8000 times. Bryce Harper has a larger footprint than Jones and a larger audience. Black people don’t really get into baseball and still Nike is doing more with a non MVP than Under Armour is doing with an MVP. Under Armour did use Bryce in a series for its “It Comes From Below” Campaign, but that was not created around and for Bryce Harper. There wasn’t an off the field shoe created for Bryce Harper, but Nike has always produced off the field shoes for it’s baseball players. See Air Griffeys or Jordan Brand’s Derek Jeter player exclusives. I’m rambling. I guess what I’m saying is Under Armour marketing is and has always been about the team. They have never really focused completely on one player and continuously pumped out marketing for that player. I mean even Steph Curry has only had one commercial this year.
- I said this above, but I will add it here. Counterfeits hurt jersey sales. I know this deal is about the exposure of the brand on television, but jersey sales factor in and honestly outside of this year’s World Series, ratings have been falling consistently. If Under Armour doesn’t take it on itself to create stars through marketing, this deal will be ‘marketing for the logo’ by getting airtime without paying the networks. (Dang I combined two things in this paragraph, not good writing at all-Kanye Shoulder Shrug)
- It’s three years away, the deal is complete today and UA is excited. It’s the offseason for baseball, but this is the time to begin creating narratives around its baseball players. Plank said in his catastrophic 3rd Quarter call that they would be investing heavily in marketing and expanding the brands reach to gain market share. I know that can’t really promote themselves with MLB until 2020, but if I don’t see an online series and commercials featuring the roster of Under Armour athletes this month, with a dope ass cross trainer ala Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders from UA, I will begin to change my opinion about the bounceback of UA.
I’m excited for the brand and we really need a good showing from Under Armour. As it stands Nike will have the NBA next year and they already have the NFL. Adidas is focusing on individual athletes, so UA is going to have to bring the heat to offset Nike’s complete dominance of team sports. I’m pulling for UA but if history holds true they won’t do the marketing to make this as big as it could be. I hope I’m wrong.