The Participatory Under Armour MapMy ‘Winter Challenge’

Following Nike’s ‘Choose Your Winter’ and adidas’ #OpenAllWinter comes Under Armour’s ‘Winter Challenge’ – a participatory initiative that also acts as an umbrella platform to promote the brand’s winter ColdGear range.


While Nike added a humorous tone to its classic stylish self-motivational approach and adidas’ snapshot sharing strategy, Under Armour teams up with training app MapMyFitness to provide a winter platform for self improvement and to motivate people to ‘gear up and get out’ – by walking, running, biking and hiking.


MapMyFitness is a training app enabling people around the globe to map, record and share their exercise routes and workouts (plus track activity, log food and drink intake etc) via an online database.


The initiative revolves around a co-branded app and a web hub – both of which trumpet the challenge via the following copy:


‘Under Armour athletes don’t let anything stand in the way of getting better. And we want YOU to prove that you have the WILL to train, no matter what elements you face this winter.’


The participatory programme challenges brand fans to record an outdoor workout for at least 45 minutes, five days a week, every week for the duration of the campaign (from 18 November to 23 December) to ‘show the world your WILL’.


As an incentive, 50 weekly winners will receive an Under Armour ‘Swag Bag’ that includes items from its core ‘ColdGear’ product line.


Furthermore, at the end of the contest, one Grand Prize Winner will scoop a $2000 gift card and a complete, head-to-toe ColdGear wardrobe.


The platform is just part of a wider global ad local marketing push for UA’s winter sportswear product lines from ColdGear in Japan,



to MagZip in thus US,



as well as its ongoing endorser-fronted, content-led, documentary-style, web-based Border Patrol series in the US and Canada.








Thus far more than 47,000 people are participating in the UA Winter Challenge.


That’s a serious initiative driving serious brand engagement.


Typical for a brand that this month was voted Ad Age’s 2014 Marketer Of The Year.


An accolade that didn’t initially seem likely back in January when Under Armour was under fire over the performance of its uniforms for the US Winter Olympic Team.


This chapter of UA’s memorable 2014 actually began back in late 2013 with its ‘I Will’ initiative launching its ColdGear Infrared range and unveiling its US Winter Olympic uniforms.


With a launch event in the heart of US ski country, Denver, that campaign was fronted by Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, freeskier Bobby Brown and snowboard cross athlete Dominique Maltais and TV work that included a spot narrated by CEO Kevin Plank (co-branded with Dick’s Sporting Goods),



which came in various cuts and versions too, as well as other TV creative led by endorsers like Dustin Craven.



This campaign launch coincided with a preview of UA’s 2014 Winter Olympic uniforms for the speedskating and bobsled teams.


Yet when it came the Winter Olympics themselves Under Armour found itself under serious criticism for its US Olympic speedskating team uniforms – which were actually cited as a possible factor in the team’s poor performances.


Yet, rather than doing what so many other brands would – panic, run scared and go dark – UA actually responded with the opposite tactic.


Under Armour believed in its philosophy, reputation and that it had sufficient brand equity to endure a few days of criticism before pro-actively getting its own story out to the marketplace.


The company offered extensive media access to those executives who defended the suits and simultaneously used endorsers like Lindsey Vonn to argue on its behalf.


This response is already being cited as a textbook case of successful crisis communications.





And the company then followed up with the fantastic, much praised and awarded ‘I Will What I Want’ women’s campaign (see previous case study) which played a major role in this month’s Ad Age accolade.




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