Appearing alongside gold medal swimmer Katie Ledecky and the world's top gymnast Simone Biles, the 18-time Olympic gold medalist put the logo of his sponsor’s rival front and centre on the cover of a national magazine which reaches over 18 million people each week.
“This will go on the wall at Nike,” said Rick Burton, a former US Olympic Committee chief marketing officer. “Under Armour must be going wild behind closed doors.”
Under Armour spokeswoman Danielle Daly maintained that Phelps was actually required by the USOC to wear Nike, which sponsors Team USA.
With the Time Inc. magazine’s vast reach, it is estimated that Nike will receive around $453,000 worth of brand exposure, according to sponsorship and analytics firm Apex Marketing Group Inc.
Under Armour’s chief executive, Kevin Plank, recently revealed that the company’s stock had risen by more than 9 per cent since the start of the Olympics. The brand launched its ‘Rule Yourself’ campaign for the Games and created a 30 second ad featuring Phelps, which has gone on to become the second most shared ad of the 2016 Olympics.