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Carroll School of Management

Athlete Endorsement

Kevin Plank

Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Under Armour

Excerpt from remarks to Boston College’s Chief Executives Club  

June 10, 2015

TAKEAWAY: Athlete Endorsement

Audience Member:
You spoke about the ongoing nest, if you will, of change. What are the criteria that you use in working out an endorsement situation with athletes? Also, should that athlete’s status and favorability change, how do you work out those situations?

Plank:

It’s amazing, in the world of social media, of how athletes are valued, is because you’re looking at how many followers do they have? How many Twitter followers do they have? How many Facebook likes do they have? Amazingly enough, the first human who crossed 100 million likes on Facebook—anybody know who that was? It was Shakira, by the way. Should we sign Shakira? I’m not sure about that.

But we’re hyperaware, I think, of the influence that athletes have. With that influence comes the good and comes the bad sometimes. We’ve all seen some of the stories play out of what’s the wrong thing to do. For our company, I’m incredibly proud of our marketing and our sports marketing teams. I think of the assets we’ve brought on board—people like Jordan Spieth recently, people like Stephen Curry, people like Andy Murray in tennis. We have, I think, an incredibly high standard.

The thing for us is that you know what you’re getting into. I don’t know how else to say it, but when you sign an athlete—we’re not looking and saying we’re going to be the highest check out there. Whether it’s a school deal, a league deal, a team deal, an athlete specifically deal, our job is to find, I think, the best people that fit the DNA of our company. These are ones that have typically been wearing our product long before. They’re coming to us and saying I want to be on the team. I want to be a part of what you’re building at Under Armour, because I’m an Under Armour guy, I’m an Under Armour gal. That mentality is something which is very, very important to us.

But I do think it’s a brand’s job to support their athletes. Because, look, people are going to have highs and they’re going to have lows as well, and none of us are perfect. But I do think there is a certain standard that we’re all accountable to, particularly when you’re making the paychecks and you’re on the front pages and those other things. So I think they’re all hyperaware of it as well. But we live under that blanket.