Olympic sponsorship comes with a hefty price tag, so simply paying the sponsor fee and popping off a few ads just isn’t enough. In recent Olympics, the brands that have made an impact created a deep emotional connection with their audience. With a push to go global, Under Armour (UA) is doing just that. Not only is UA providing uniforms and apparel for many of the US teams, but the sporting giant is airing one of the best TV spots during the 2016 games — Rule Yourself featuring Michael Phelps.
Sponsoring athletes is the norm for the sport-related brands, but there are always inherent risks. In Michael’s case, his risks were not in his athletic performance, but how he behaved out of the pool. He made a real splash at 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing, and 2012 London Olympic Games, but his recreational drug and alcohol use after the Games caused a great deal of controversy with the whole world watching.
But UA was smart. They knew we all watched Michael win and we watched him struggle. And still, America was rooting for him. Rule Yourself tapped into those emotions. The tagline neatly summed up Michael’s story: “It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light”
UA stuck with Michael Phelps through thick and thin, and it was a WIN. Knowing how to pull at our heartstrings in an honest, human way was an even bigger one.
It is now indisputable that world loves Michael Phelps, that he is the greatest Olympic swimmer of all time, and that UA is reaping the benefits. There’s a lot to learn in this.