Fierce, Feminine and Everything in Between – Why Under Armour Gets Women

Jessi Pervola, Associate Director of Brand Experiences, takes a look at Under Armour’s powerful new campaign for women.

This week, Under Armour (who also happens to be one of my all-time favorite clients) released a new campaign to promote its women’s line with the tagline “I will what I want”, a build off of their successful “I will” campaign from previous years that has been aimed at both men and women.

Go watch the commercial, which already had 4 million views, and tell me you’re not inspired afterward. In it, you see Misty Copeland, a soloist for the American Ballet Theater, dancing while a voice over tells the story of what she overcame to get to where she is today. On its website, you find other stories like this, from skier Lindsey Vonn to other women athletes who are surfers, soccer players, and yogis.

The campaign if full of themes that are universal to both men and women – reaching your dreams, working hard, digging deep to find internal strength. Knowing that you have what it takes to succeed but still needing to convince those around you. Anyone can relate to this, athlete or not. Under Armour actually told a similar story from another commercial they released a few years ago with NBA player Brandon Jennings. 

But the difference with women athletes – and this is what Under Armour has captured perfectly – is that women have a continuous duality when it comes to athletics. When I put on my Under Armour gear – which I choose for fit and performance, but also because of the great colors and patterns – to lift heavy weights with my boyfriend, who is a former pro rugby player, I’m entering into total beast mode.  And yet, at the same time, my nails are painted bright red and I fix my hair in between sets if it’s a mess, because guys, I am still a woman. I love to squat heavy and do push ups until my arms fall off, but I also love to visit Sephora and spend way too much money on make up.

When we were working with Under Armour to design the Armour Bra, this theme of duality came up over and over with our women athletes, but it isn’t something we heard in our work with men. In a world where Title IX was passed only 40 years ago, it’s still a man’s world when it comes to athletics. To be in that space and get respect, women have to put their game face on. In our work, we talked with women athletes of all types, from Division I NCAA soccer players, to pro cyclists, to amateur athletes – women who worked and had kids but still ran five miles every day – and they told us this same idea again and again: I am an athlete, and I am a woman.

In this campaign, some people have argued over whether Misty Copeland is an athlete or an artist. And this the thing that Under Armour understands and shows authentically – that she’s equally both of these things at once. She has some serious – and I mean serious – muscle that is contrasted with the beauty and artistry of ballet. She is badass, and she is beautiful, she is fierce and she is feminine.

Under Armour gets this contrast, this balance, and they show it perfectly. Women wear jewelry and lift heavy weights. We train like beasts and afterwards head to work in a summer dress. We go running when we’re pregnant and win marathons months after giving birth (well, if you’re Paula Radcliffe anyway…). We are women, and we are athletes. #iwillwhatiwant

Photo courtesy of Under Armour and The Huffington Post.