Advertising trainwrecks: “DICK’S Sporting Goods: Under Armour ColdGear”

OK, I started off just plain confused by this and then things went downhill from there. Apparently this was designed by 2 separate committees of men that communicated via smoke signals. Let’s break it down.

november 18, 2013

Dick’s Sport Goods is doing some cross-promotion with Under Armour. Dick’s carries Under Armour in their stores so that makes sense. Under Armour tells us on their website that their ‘mission is clear: MAKE ATHLETES BETTER’. Got it. Dick’s tagline has a little wider scope but is nonetheless similarly definitive: Every Season Starts at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Watch this ..

time index: 00:00:00 .. 00:00:03

Good images of Lindsey Vonn, championship downhill skier and Olympic hopeful, and Jordan Spieth, rising star in the PGA.

time index: 00:00:04

duckWe hear the word ‘athletes’ as we look at the face of one of the Robertson clan of Duck Dynasty fame. The family that sells duck calls. In a swamp. Sportsman? Yup. Outdoorsman? Absolutely. Athlete? Not even close.

december 18, 2013

In the middle of a media shitstorm A&E channel suspends the patriarch of the Robertson clan from its’ hit show Duck Dynasty for homophobic comments.

time index: 00:00:07

A bobsled flashes by, perhaps somehow reinforcing the imagery of Olympic success. Presumably our skier, golfer, and duck hunter will not be bobsledding as part of their training.

time index: 00:00:08 .. 00:00:13

Actual images of downhill skiing and golfing.

time index: 00:00:15

bellyWe’re told that “Under Armour can .. make ‘strong’ look ‘pretty’” as we see images of Lindsey’s midriff. I struggled with this statement. To me, strong is beautiful. Human athletes quite literally embody physical beauty. We have an unending stream of advertising using sex to sell, but why does my daughter now need to be told that if she is strong she then needs do something different to be pretty?

november 20th, 2013

Lindsey Vonn tears her ACL and MCL on a training run in Austria.

time index: 00:00:17

Under Armour will .. “help make Lindsey’s comeback a reality”.

january 7th, 2014

Lindsey Vonn announces she will not compete in the Sochi Olympics due to her knee injury.

time index: 00:00:19

Random snowboarder extreme skiing.

time index: 00:00:21 .. 00:00:24

Cute kids in a Dick’s store, nice message about Under Armour empowering the next athletes to believe that they can do anything.

time index: 00:00:25

There’s that bobsled again, headed downhill. Fast. Apropos of nothing.

time index: 00:00:25 .. 00:00:31

Final branding images for Under Armour and finally Dick’s. The first and last images we see in the video are related to Dick’s, but at no time in the advertisement is there any audio indicating Dick’s Sporting Goods, only imagery.

To do a final tally, UA is going to:

• make athletes better • help a golfer compete for championships • help Lindsey with her comeback • make her faster • make tight feel nice • make strong look pretty • empower the next athlete to believe they can do anything • bring kids into Dick’s sporting goods • duck call a snowboarder with a bobsled something something something •

And so we are left with 31 seconds of mixed messages, disjoint images, and failure. At least I’ll know where to go if I want to look pretty when I’m duck hunting. What messages are you sending to the people you want to reach? Did you plan them out by having blindfolded monkeys throw darts at random powerpoint slides, or did you take time to produce something unique, creative, and consistent?


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