Under Armour (NYSE:UAA) is benefiting from multiple important sponsorship angles right now, such as UA Golf's Jordan Spieth and UA Basketball's Steph Curry. Misty Copeland and Under Armour's sponsorship of her ballet career might seem like an odd athlete angle to take in light of such traditional sports, but here's why this sponsorship is one of the most important Under Armour has made so far.
Misty Copeland's recent win
Copeland is the perfect athlete for Under Armour to have picked up early. Just like UA's other athletes and the UA brand in general, Copeland is the underdog story of striving through adversity to ultimately end up on top.
When she was 13, Copeland strove to be a ballerina but was told that she had all of the wrong proportions. She was too tall, had the wrong body shape, and was already too old to have any chance to make it very far in ballet. Fast-forward 19 years, and Copeland was named the American Ballet Theatre's female principal dancer, the first African American to ever do so.
Under Armour women
Last year, Under Armour released a video for its "I Will What I Want Campaign" staring Copeland. It was targeted toward female consumers.
During a Chicago conference with Sports Business Journal in May, UA CEO Kevin Plank said 2014 was "The Year of the Woman" thanks to Copeland. This year looks to be even more so, thanks to Copeland's recent successes and Under Armour's continued push in bringing even more women into its brand.
Other than Copeland, Under Armour continues to add other high-profile or soon-to-be high-profile women to their roster. World Champion downhill skier Lindsay Vonn has been with Under Armour for about a decade already, but UA has also signed diverse and impressive athletes and public figures, such as supermodel Gisele Bundchen, soccer player Kelley O'Hara, professional surfer Brianna Cope, and more.
Fivefold growth in five years
Spieth's success has helped Under Armour Golf sales to skyrocket so far this year. But as exciting as that growth is, golf is only about about 5% of UA's revenue. Women's brand sales currently make up about 30% of Under Armour's revenue but could account for much more going forward as UA seeks to provide athletic gear that makes sense specifically for women.
The newest of those is the UA bra, one of the most important pieces of equipment for many female athletes and active women. UA is making sure to do this release right, designing three styles of its bra for different activity levels with lightweight gel shoulder straps and a gel-encased underwire.
"The Armour Bra collection is just the newest chapter in that story, and it offers the innovation, comfort and support that allows me to stay focused on the slopes, in the gym, and in my everyday life," says skier Vonn.
Sponsoring athletes isn't cheap, and it's one major reason Under Armour's marketing expenses rose nearly $100 million from 2013 to 2014. But while high-profile athletes such as Spieth are helping to push UA's name in those respective sports, Copeland and other female sponsored athletes are helping to promote an important and underserved audience.
CEO Plank has said he expects women's-apparel sales to become at least as large as men's-apparel sales, and for total sales to break the $10 billion mark in the next few years. That means that from about $1 billion in women's sales in 2014, we should see about fivefold growth in this segment in the coming years. This is just one more reason Under Armour continues to look like an incredible growth opportunity.