Press "Enter" to skip to content

Why Under Armour Needs to Diversify Its NBA Roster ASAP

Share In-Depth News from AHN

Learn about Under Armour’s ever-growing roster of sponsored & endorsed athletes & teams. With elite talent from every sport, we’re just getting started!

Source: Under Armour Athlete & Team Roster | US

Under Armour is going through a bit of an identity crisis and it’s created by a lack of confidence by designers and a poorly structured marketing campaign that fails to utilize grassroots marketing tactics, not based on deep pockets, but on common sense. Under Armour is also lacking a connection to the people via athletes. When someone thinks about the Under Armour brand there is only one athlete that comes to mind, Steph Curry. When someone thinks about Under Armour there isn’t a story that stands out and this failure to develop an identity is slowing down the recovery of the brand to the people.

Using the source link to look at the roster of UA athletes, there are some very good stories there. Unfortunately, in sponsorships the people who move the needle have an emotional connection to the masses. Consider Rihanna pushing Puma into massive growth this year, or Kanye when he signed with adidas. Kanye didn’t make a product for a year, but his wearing of the Ultra Boost literally turned around the sell of the shoe immediately and now adidas has usurped Under Armour as the brand challenging Nike in the US.

As I write this I realize that I didn’t list an NBA athlete in the growth of Puma and adidas. I listed entertainers. Under Armour can’t poach an entertainer that has such a gigantic connection to its fans, but at their disposal is the only league that actually sells footwear in the US, the NBA. Although basketball shoes overall are down, NBA players still carry enough influence to boost a company like Under Armour.

Under Armour’s current roster lists Emmanuel Mudiay (Denver Nuggets), Grevis Vasquez (unsigned due to injury), Brandon Jennings (New York Knicks -but isn’t wearing Under Armour at all and you have to wonder if he is still signed). Not pictured on this roster of players on the site is the guy responsible for getting Steph Curry to sign to UA, Kent Bazemore (Atlanta Hawks), and Will Barton (Denver Nuggets).

Here is a list of players for Under Armour to consider who could drive an interest through storytelling. Will Barton and Bazemore are an interesting duo who both share similar stories, but instead of playing up the underdog theme, UA has barely featured them in anything and they aren’t branded beyond just wearing the shoes. I’m sure there are other players, but even Under Armour doesn’t care since they haven’t updated their roster page on this source link. Mudiay isn’t quite the player I thought he could be, but at least he’s being utilized in picture campaigns for sportswear; Barton has been as well. The only area for growth for the brand is in footwear and it’s not going to happen with a golf shoe, or football.

Two players Under Armour should look to for sponsorship in the NBA and why:

  1. larry-nance-jr-dunk-vs-warriorsLarry Nance Jr. – The LA Lakers have the head coach that led the Warriors to the beginning of the huge 73 win season last year. The squad is actually winning games and ahead of schedule for returning to prominence. They are young and talented. Nance is currently an adidas athlete, but there isn’t anything major attached to him. Nance gives UA their first big time athlete if they can get him with the brand. He should compete in the slam dunk contest. He has a connection to the NBA past through his dad, similar to Steph Curry. Nance is in a major market.
  2. imageRon Baker – The Knicks first year backcourt general is playing about 10 minutes per game. I expect this to increase as he shows his three point shooting ability and he is literally a carbon copy of his current coach Jeff Hornacek. Baker went undrafted and fits in with the story of Barton and Bazemore.

Under Armour has to recapture their momentum and solely relying on Curry is faulty logic. Curry is no longer the underdog. His narrative is not going to sell as many shoes as they have. In Bazemore, Barton, and Baker there is a Killer Bees theme that Under Armour could develop, backed with a WuTang track and a short series featuring the three players and their underdog narrative. Nance may be a dream, but he would definitely be a boost come All Star weekend and the slam dunk contest, but the Killer Bees could reignite excitement especially if the team shoe is something special.

Update 3/26/2017

Larry Nance has been injured. The player I think could really be a healthy addition to the brand and should be a target coming into the league DeArran Fox of Kentucky. Current NBA player who should be endorsed Yogi Ferrell.