Both of the starting quarterbacks in Super Bowl 52 are Under Armour athletes, a first for the Baltimore-based sports apparel brand.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been with Under Armour since 2010, when he left Nike; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles has worn the brand for years, but officially signed this past summer. (Under Armour does not disclose financial terms of its endorsement deals or length of contracts.) Whichever team wins, Under Armour can put up a celebratory post on social media.
Whether the exposure will actually generate buzz for Under Armour is a different question. Because Nike is the official on-field provider of NFL jerseys, the only place Under Amour can get its logo is cleats and gloves. Brady and Foles will both wear Under Armour cleats and gloves; will fans notice?
Under Armour won’t have any in-game ad this Super Bowl, and hasn’t created any new television ads to promote either quarterback, but will rely mostly on social media promotion of both stars this week. Outside of its “brand house” in Boston this week, Under Armour will build an ice sculpture of Brady. Philadelphia fans are likely unaware Foles has a relationship with Under Armour. On an Under Armour Instagram post last week promoting Foles, one follower commented, “Why are you showing this, Tom Brady is seriously one of your biggest athletes.”
Signing Foles this past summer, when he was just a backup and no one could have foreseen he’d end up starting in the Super Bowl, is arguably evidence of Under Armour’s sports marketing foresight. The company famously signed golfer Jordan Spieth to a head-to-toe deal at age 19, well before he became the youngest household name in the sport. And at times when Spieth has been on the biggest stage in his sport, playing for the win on the final day of a Major tournament, Under Armour stock has appeared to respond, either positively or negatively, based on his finish.
On the other hand, Under Armour’s star-studded portfolio of sponsored athletes, from Spieth to Brady to Steph Curry to Lindsey Vonn to Michael Phelps, has not done much to help it avoid its recent struggles. The company had an objectively bad year in 2017. Sales in its home market of North America fell, and shares dropped 50% for the year.
But touting its sponsorship of both Super Bowl 52 quarterbacks is a positive way to start the new year. Foles in particular, a backup who finds himself on the sport’s biggest stage, helps speaks to the brand’s underdog image. The company has shared images of Foles on social with language fitting that tone: “Most didn’t believe Nick Foles could lead Philly all the way to Minnesota. Now he’s knocking on history’s door.”
Daniel Roberts is the sports business writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.