In case I haven’t mentioned it enough, I need to tell you once more how AMAZING the Millsaps College Else School of Management is! Not only does it have the highest accreditation for a small institution (AACSB), it provides such an outstanding educational experience people just shouldn’t even try to compete! I may have mentioned it in ancient posts, but the Economics department (part of the Else School) alternates between a trip to Washington DC and Atlanta to network, learn, and explore economics outside of the classroom. Last Thursday morning, the Else School provided another noteworthy experience by inviting the Brand Creative director for Under Armour to speak on campus. All the way from Maryland, Steve Battista, entertained the student body, faculty, and Jackson community with the history and success of Under Armour, and how exactly they “Protect their house”.
Battista began his presentation with the standard 3 minute video that the company begins all corporate, sales, marketing, and general meetings with. It was 3 minutes of hardcore, energetic, inspirational messaging about the history of Under Armour, their brand identity, mission, and overall “greatness”. I mean if it convinced me to be excited and want to go out and buy some Under Armour, I can only imagine what it does to corporate investors!
The story of Under Armour itself was news to me. It began with a college senior at the University of Maryland who played football and noticed the extra weight and drag that a sweat soaked cotton shirt added to his performance. After a lengthy and costly struggle, he found a man in New York to make prototypes of shirts made of stretchy, water-repellent material…and thus began Body Armour. Yes, you heard me right BODY Armour not Under Armour.
The name Under Armour came after a disgruntled Kevin Plank (UA founder) called his brother having found that the name “Body Armour” was already taken by a ballistics vest company. Plank’s brother, hoping to poke fun at his latest entrepreneurial venture, answered the phone with “Oh how is that new Under Armour thing going”. Amazed, Plank immediately registered the name; however, the hardest part had yet to come. He had a product, a company name, and a potential market, but what he didn’t have was money.
He began traveling up and down the east Coast hoping to make small sales to friends in the league, but it wasn’t until his first sale with Georgia Tech that Polk knew just what could be accomplished. Polk set his sights on reaching the equipment managers they were after all the key clientele to get his product in the limelight. Numerous college teams, NFL teams, a movie, and many struggles later Under Armour is one of the leading sportswear brands known for its innovation and in my own words “pump up commercials”.
While Battista gave quite the entertaining history of Under Armour, his main focus was how the company became what it is today. The answer? Branding. Battista stated brands win. Great brands have the strength to make people put up with those technical or design difficulties.
I could drag on and on about the amazing presentation Mr. Battista gave; however, I don’t really think my words could do him justice. It was a fine delivery of branding, company history, and quite the entertaining boost one needs on the average Thursday morning! The event was attended by students, faculty, and community members from all areas of practice. From local ad agency representatives, to restaurant entrepreneur Jeff Good, to a trademark lawyer, people from throughout the area flocked to hear yet another fantastic display of the Else School’s greatness.
Hey maybe out athletic department can even score some sponsored Under Armour uniforms after this? Wishful thinking right?!