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20 Things You Didn't Know about Under Armour

Under Armour is a corporation that specializes in manufacturing footwear as well as both casual and sports apparel. Despite its name, it isn't British but rather American, though it has regional headquarters situated in countries all around the world. In other words, while Under Armour might not be Nike, it is nonetheless a corporation with a true international presence. Here are 20 things that you may or may not have known about Under Armour:

1. Founded in 1996

Under Armour being smaller than Nike is unsurprising when one learns that it was founded in 1996. In other words, it is a relative newcomer compared to a lot of the corporations with whom it is competing. Moreover, it has been competing with established corporations in its chosen market, meaning that its progress would have been that much more challenging because of said obstacles.

2. Founded By Kevin Plank

The founder of Under Armour is Kevin Plank, who remains as the CEO of the corporation in the present. In those times, he was a former special teams captain for the football team of the University of Maryland, which provided him with some of the skills that have enabled him to find success. Initially, Plank based his operations out of his grandmother's basement out of all places, but it wasn't too long before his earlier successes had enabled him to move somewhere else.

3. First Team Sale in 1996

To get a general idea of Plank's success, consider the fact that he managed to secure his first team sale towards the end of 1996. This is rather remarkable because in those times, Plank had spent a lot of time traveling up and down the East Coast with his stock in his car, serving as a traveling salesman for his own products. As a result, the fact that he managed to secure a $17,000 sale in 1996 should make it very clear just how much progress he had managed to make within that short period of time.

4. Inspired By His Own Experiences

Plank's product ideas was very much inspired by his own experiences as an athlete. For example, he developed a loathing for the fact that his T-shirts would be soaked whenever he wore them beneath his team jersey. However, he noticed that the compression shorts that he wore to the same activities would manage to remain dry throughout. Due to this, Plank was inspired to make T-shirts out of wicking fabrics that would draw moisture away from the body instead of becoming soaked in it like their counterparts made out of cotton.

5. One of the First to Start Selling Moisture-Wicking Apparel

As it turned out, Plank became one of the first to start selling moisture-wicking apparel to athletes. Something that was made possible when he chose to use microfibers, with the result that those who wore them would remain a pleasing combination of cool and dry even when they went through strenuous exertion. The concept proved to be a huge hit, so much so that a number of major manufacturers such as Nike and Adidas would soon follow in Plank's footsteps in this regard.

6. Had Some Help from Old Connections

With that said, Plank had some help in the form of the old connections that he had built up over the course of his career as a college football player. In short, what happened was that some of his team-mates had managed to go on to become professional NFL players. As a result, when Plank came up with moisture-wicking apparel, they were natural choices for the first people that he would present his product to. After all, they were either his friends or otherwise acquainted with them. Furthermore, they possessed notability, which is particularly important when selling products by reputation.

7. Chose British Spelling Because of Circumstances

Under Armour uses the British rather than American spelling. This can seem rather strange considering that Plank is an American citizen and Under Armour is an American corporation. However, it turns out that Plank winded up choosing the British spelling because of the circumstances. In short, what happened was that the toll-free vanity number for "Under Armor" wasn't available at the time, whereas the toll-free vanity number for "Under Armour" still was. Combined with the nature of the product that enabled Plank's business to get its foot in the door, it became a natural choice.

8. Needed to Found a Factory in 1997

Unsurprisingly, Plank's product found favor with the people that he had contacted. As a result, said individuals began talking about the moisture-wicking apparel to other athletes as well as the other people around them in what is a classic case of word of mouth marketing. Thanks to that word of mouth marketing, more and more people became interested in Plank's products, so much so that by 1997, he had to start up a factory in the state of Ohio to make enough of his shirts to fulfill the product orders that had been placed with him.

9. Got a Boost from Movies

Product placement in movies is a tried and true method for getting consumer interest. In the case of Under Armour, it got a huge boost from a couple of movies from Warner Brothers, with one being Any Given Sunday and the other being The Replacements. Plank took advantage of the release of Any Given Sunday to place an ad in ESPN The Magazine, which might have been expensive but proved to be very worthwhile when it proceeded to generate close to $750,000 in sales for his business.

10. Became Official Outfitter for the XFL

Speaking of which, Under Armour received another boost when it became the official outfitter for the XFL, which some people might remember as a professional football league that was promoted for having fewer rules, meaning that it encouraged rougher play than its counterpart. Given that the main mover behind the league was Vince McMahon, it is perhaps unsurprising to learn that the whole thing took a lot of elements from what was then called the World Wrestling Federation. However, the XFL didn't manage to survive for more than its inaugural season, though supposedly, McMahon is attempting to revive it so that he can make a second go at things.

11. Had IPO in November of 2005

In November of 2005, Under Armour had its IPO, which is when a corporation sells its shares to public investors for the first time. Suffice to say that Under Armour's IPO enabled it to raise $153 million, which was very important capital. After all, businesses can't grow without the resources needed to fuel that growth, meaning that the $153 million helped it expand its operations, particularly in combination with the $12 million that it had received from a private equity firm in 2003.

12. Has Gone Outside of Athletes for Celebrity Endorsements

Under Armour has been known to go outside of athletes when it comes to its celebrity endorsements. For instance, it is a huge sponsor of Duck Dynasty, which has managed to become a very successful reality TV show in spite or rather perhaps because of its more questionable elements. In particular, it is worth noting that Under Armour has defended cast member Phil Robertson, who has proven to be rather controversial because of comments such as homosexuality being a sin as well as a very long and very graphical diatribe in which he described the murder of an atheist family before finishing off by having the murderers say that because the atheists said that there was no God, they were just "having fun" because there was neither right nor wrong.

13. Well-Known Because of Contract with Stephen Curry

Generally speaking, Under Armour is very well-known for its contract with Stephen Curry, who has become the face of the corporation to a real extent. This is particularly true because Curry has proven himself to be one of the best players in the world, which in turn, has caused the importance of his product line to rise and rise. Nowadays, the performance of the entire corporation can fluctuate based on the performance of Curry's shoes.

14. Tried to Get Kevin Durant

Speaking of which, Under Armour has made an attempt to get Kevin Durant as well. What happened was that Under Armour offered Durant a contract worth $250 million over the course of a decade in order to steal a march on Nike. However, Nike proved to be perfectly willing to contest the bid, which is how Durant winded up with a $300 million contract instead.

15. Has Been the Subject of a Minor Kerfuffle Between Curry and Durant

It is amusing to note that Under Armour has been the subject of a minor kerfuffle between Curry and Durant. In short, what happened was that Durant took some verbal shots at Under Armour while playing up Nike products, which resulted in some reaction from his team Curry, who of course, represented Under Armour. With that said, what might have resulted in major drama on other teams more or less fizzled out when Curry and Durant had a short conversation with one another in the locker room. On the one hand, it wasn't particularly exciting to watch from the outside; on the other hand, it could be interpreted as a heartwarming sign of the unity of the team.

16. Took a Hit During 2014 Winter Olympics

Amusingly, Under Armour took a hit during the 2014 Winter Olympics because it had provided suits to the U.S. speed-skaters. Initially, said individuals delivered a poor performance while wearing the suits, which seemed to have convinced them that the suits were to blame. As a result, they took off the suits in preference for their old ones, which was followed up by them losing anyways. On the whole, there wasn't any real evidence that Under Armour's products were to blame for the speed-skaters' performance, but its stock price managed to drop by more than 2 percent anyways because stock investors can be notoriously jumpy.

17. Has Bought Apps

In relatively recent times, Under Armour has bought up some apps and app-makers that are not directly connected to its business but nonetheless have some indirect connections. One excellent example was the app-maker MapMyFitness, which was picked up for $150 million in November of 2013. Another excellent example was MyFitnessPal for a much greater sum of $475 million, which is an app used for calorie counting as well as other nutritional applications.

18. Has Teamed Up with IBM

Speaking of which, Under Armour has a partnership with IBM. However, this isn't either a shoe deal or an apparel deal. Instead, Under Armour has teamed up with IBM because it wants to make use of IBM's Watson system to make sense of the data that it has collected through its UA Record app as well as other sources. Simply put, modern technologies mean that modern businesses can get a lot of very useful information about their customers. However, there is so much information that it can be challenging for them to process said data into something usable by humans, which is where IBM's Watson system can step in.

19. Relatively Balanced Between Men and Women

Under Armour's own demographic data suggests that its customer base is relatively balanced between men and women, though not perfectly so. In short, 53 percent of its customers are men, while the remaining 47 percent of its customers are female, meaning that there is still a bit of a gap between them. Otherwise, there are some other interesting pieces of information as well, with examples ranging from how Under Armour does best with a younger market to how close to half of Under Armour's customer base fall into the $75,000 to $149,000 household income range.

20. Pulled Ads from YouTube

It is interesting to note that Under Armour has pulled its ads from YouTube. In short, what happened was that a screw-up at YouTube resulted in the ads of various major advertisers getting shown on extremist content on extremist channels. Unsurprisingly, said advertisers weren't exactly happy about having their brands associated with such messages, thus resulting in a fair amount of backlash. In Under Armour's case, that backlash consisted of the simple and straightforward but nonetheless very notable choice of them refusing to continue advertising through YouTube.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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