Athletic apparel company Under Armour is looking to tap the large female market with the unveiling of its new ad campaign, and the Internet is enthusiastic.
The first ad in the campaign features a less conventional, away-from-the-sidelines figure: ballerina Misty Copeland, who has risen to soloist of the American Ballet Theater. The ad features Copeland, dressed in an Under Armour cropped tank and barely-there underwear bottoms, dancing as voiceover reads a rejection letter she received from a ballet academy.
"You lack the right feet, Achilles tendons, turnout, torso length and bust. You have the wrong body for ballet," the voiceover recites as Copeland commands an empty stage. "At 13, you are too old to be considered.”
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank admitted that his company hadn't always been so female-friendly, and he hopes the ads will separate Under Armour from other companies who espouse a "shrink it and pink it" approach to female athletic clothing.
"We learned that nine men sitting around a table can't create products for women," Plank told Fortune Magazine this week.
As Fox Business reported, Plank hopes to snare the female customers alienated amid Lululemon's tumbling stock. Lululemon, a once-popular yoga apparel outlet, lost momentum in 2013 after it pulled its line of nearly see-through yoga pants for women.
"In May, Lululemon reported its Q1 revenue increased 11 percent to $384.6 million from Q1 2013, but the stock is down nearly 35 percent year-to-date. Under Armour, meanwhile, is up over 50 percent in 2014," Fox Business' Gabrielle Karol reported. "The ad shows that Under Armour is ready to play ball when it comes to women’s athletic apparel."
Both Time and the Huffington Post praised the Copeland ad as "inspiring," and Ad Week called the spot "jaw-dropping." But not everyone is quick to call the campaign a departure for Under Armour. Buzzfeed pointed out in a piece on the ad that while it might be a step in the right direction, Under Armour still lacks gender diversity as a company.
"In the past decade, Under Armour ads have typically conveyed the decidedly tough-guy image the brand was built on, beginning in 1996. They feature gritty athletes in dark industrial yards or dimly lit concrete gyms, running and lifting weights to a marching drumbeat, sweat pouring down their brows," Buzzfeed's Sapna Maheshwari wrote. "Under Armour has hired at least four women to VP roles and higher since 2012, though none serve on its board or executive team yet."