Under Armour Finally Connects with #RuleYourself Campaign

Back in August 2015, Under Armour launched its #RuleYourself advertising campaign–a campaign that Business Insider said was the company’s “latest shot to topple Nike.” But that shot kind of fizzled out, and I can tell you why…that is if you haven’t figured it out yourself after viewing their latest ads.

You are the sum of all your training photo

Great concept, too literal in execution

“You are the sum of all your training.”

The #RuleYourself campaign created by Droga5 is perfect for all audiences–if you want success, you need to have discipline, you need to rule yourself. Top-tier athletes are excellent examples of that discipline. Many people have talent, but it takes dedication and hours upon hours of work to use that talent to become an elite athlete.

The problem with the first ads though is that somewhere in the concept and creation phases, they decided to go too literal and lost the connection to their audience. See for yourself:

The idea is not bad. You see what seems like an infinite number of images of each athlete practicing and then, at the end, all those images merge into one–the sum of all their training. Get it? The problem is it ends up being too robotic. There’s no emotion.

Sports is all about emotion for both athletes and fans, and the first videos in the campaign (see the Tom Brady one here) were kinda cool and rhythmic, but they weren’t very personal or emotional.

Winning by appealing to emotion

Now, here we are in 2016 and Under Armour’s new ads have gotten more personal. One featuring the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team came out at the end of February.

This one gives you that all important behind-the-scenes look at what the gymnasts go through in training. That rhythm and repetition is still there, but there’s also individuality.

The latest ad features Michael Phelps, and I think it’s the best of the bunch so far.

The pace of the music, the lyrics (“It’s the last goodbye, I swear…”), the lighting, the sounds–everything comes together to give you a personal inside view of Phelps’ training regimen as he vies for his last Olympic competition.

Does it evoke emotion? Absolutely. We can see the pain, the sweat and the effort that goes into competing at this level. We see what it takes to rule yourself. Phelps actually explains this in his interview with Adweek, saying:

It shows the raw things I’ve gone through to get to the point where I’m at. And that’s something a lot of the public hasn’t seen.”

Viewing it for the first time also brought Phelps and his fiancee to tears. (See the video UA posted on its YouTube channel.)

I just hope Under Armour and Drago5 continue to go in this direction, giving us a closer, more personal look that we can attach to and be inspired by. It’s the only way the audience will feel a connection, and keeping us connected is the only way UA has a shot at narrowing the gap between it and Nike.