In commemoration of the 2018 Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Under Armour rolled out its #UACelebrateWomen initiative across the Asia Pacific to reinforce its commitment over the years to champion and empower women.
The initiative, which will last till the end of November, will see Under Armour hold a series of practical workshops, runs and yoga sessions organized specially for women, building and amplifying on its close relationships with women around the world, and with its female community in APAC, to provide them with specific practical guidance to kickstart or elevate healthy lifestyles.
Yvonne Tey, the marketing director of Under Armour Sports, South East Asia, tells The Drum that initiatives like #UACelebrateWomen, as well as Test of Will, an urban fitness challenge in APAC for people who are driven to succeed and push their limits, is in line with Under Armour’s pledge to find a ‘higher purpose at its core’. She says this means supporting the underdogs who are hungry and bold in striving for excellence, competing against the best and winning.
“Under Armour is a performance brand created with an underdog fighting DNA. We are constantly innovating and designing products that allow for maximum performance and comfort, while being stylish and versatile for wear from the gym to the street,” Tey explains. “The initiatives are in line with our aim to invest in individuals with the willpower to push boundaries, from both male and female amateur athletes to professional sports stars.”
Aside from these initiatives, the brand says it takes an omnichannel approach for its marketing, tapping into its brick-and-mortar stores as well as its e-commerce site and mobile retailing platform. Its Connected Fitness portal also aims to power the digital health and fitness community globally through a suite of applications like Under Armour Record, MapMyFitness, Endomondo, and MyFitnessPal.
In Singapore, it also holds events and various community partnerships in streetwear, to aid its evolution into a ‘Performance Meets Lifestyle’ brand. It will be the two-time official apparel sponsor for the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) 2018 in December.
“In the months leading up to the marathon, we are actively holding pacer runs and ‘women’s squad runs’ for the public to train and get access to exclusive discounts,” says Tey. “We also recently debuted in Street Superior Festival 2018, an event dedicated to Singapore’s subcultures combining streetwear and sneakers, music, digital and street art. At this event, we set up an interactive basketball universe – where consumers could shoot hoops at a retro basketball arcade machine and try on Stephen Curry’s footwear line (Curry 5), as well as explore Under Armour’s high-performance HOVR range and vintage Forge 96 sneakers.”
One of the practical workshops in #UACelebrateWomen will be conducted by Marie Choo, a dog behaviourist and ultra-trail marathoner, who will hold a 5km Starter Run workshop for women. Choo previously started an ‘I run for rescue dogs’ campaign, which Under Armour Singapore supported by sponsoring her training gear, as she wanted to help abandoned and stray dogs living in Singapore.
Choo is part of an elite group of personalities like Muhammad Ali, Misty Copeland, Michael Phelps, Stephen Curry, Jordan Spieth, and Lindsey Vonn, as well as celebrities like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, that promotes Under Armour’s message and represent the brand through their work. The 42-year-old Singaporean, who started running at age of 38, says she wants to advocate women that it is never "too old, too late, too weak” for them to kickstart their fitness journey as she started out not being able to run 2km and went on to complete her first full marathon (42.195km) in 10 months.
Choo has since gone on to ultra-trail marathons, running 50km and 100km races on trails and in the mountains. “I think my fitness journey has given hope to my friends on Facebook and followers on Instagram that they too can attempt to achieve some of their own fitness goals,” Choo tells The Drum. “I am really happy that Under Armour Singapore has given me a platform with the 5km Starter Run workshop as part of its #UACelebrateWomen initiative, so I can connect and share my experiences with the women who signed up.”
Choo’s workshop, which will be conducted over five sessions, will see her teach participants how to build their base and start their own 5km training, brisk walk to get familiar with the route and make friends, prevent injuries and recover well. Participants will also learn what to wear for the runs to feel comfortable and look good, what kind of waterproof makeup they can use during races, what to eat, how to progress to longer distances, how to prep for their first race, how to execute the race and the importance of cross training.
Choo, a former marketer, adds it is heartening to see a rise of women in the sports and fitness scene and to see how they lead by example in their chosen sports. She points to the likes of the 86-year-old “Iron Nun” Madonna Buder who competes in Ironman to 82-year-old Ernestine Shepherd who only picked up bodybuilding at the age of 52, as her inspiration.
“I hope that I can do the same for the younger women in the scene, to set the example that we can do what we want if we have discipline and determination. I am an advocate of good clean eating and staying away from enhancement substances such as steroids, as I believe that there’s no shortcut to good health and fitness,” she explains. “I learned through my own experiences and believe that health and fitness are based on five pillars: cardio, strength, nutrition, mobility, and recovery. I hope I can share with more women, especially younger women about this.”
“We have only one body and we must take good care of it, even in the pursuit of fitness. Health and fitness are two separate things but tend to be confused. You can be healthy (no injuries and hardly falling sick) but may do not have fitness (cannot run 2km to save your life), or you can have the fitness (run a marathon) but not be healthy (constantly sick, plagued with injuries from overtraining and lack of rest). The ideal goal is to have a balance, which is to be healthy and fit.”
Tey says personalities like Choo embodies UA’s DNA, which is while they are prominent in many different areas, they all have unique stories of grit to tell and truly personify UA’s ‘We Will’ trademark.
“Traditionally, UA has celebrated the various ways that sports can unite, inspire and change the world. We engage such athletes in different ways to tell the UA story; for example, Dwayne collaborated with Under Armour to launch The Rock Collection, most recently releasing a new line titled ‘All Day Hustle’ – a wide swath of men’s and women’s gear that enables all athletes to push past their limit and build stronger versions of themselves,” she explains.
“These collections are a nod to Dwayne’s relentless go-getting attitude that inspires millions every day. Misty Copeland also recently launched her Fall/Winter collection with Under Armour.”
“Closer to home, Choo demonstrates UA’s ‘We Will’ proposition through her determination to achieve – despite her hectic career, she has progressed from starting with 2km runs to now running ultra-marathons of 50km and 100km, whilst also balancing a stint as a dog behaviourist and trainer. By collaborating with her to helm the ##UACelebrateWomen workshops, we hope to inspire women around Singapore to emulate her active lifestyle.”
Julie Sukosd, Under Armour’s senior manager of global CRM, has previously said that having a genuine and individual relationship with customers is paramount, especially in today’s data-driven world where customers can grow increasingly frustrated by poorly targeted messaging. That starts with using personalities like Choo to help empower both men and women.