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Archive for February, 2012

 

Feb 09 2012

Matt Mirchin, Senior VP of Sports Marketing, Under Armour, visits Georgetown

by at 10:27 am


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By Tim Speros

A pair of compression shorts, some sweat, an innovative idea, and sixteen years of hard work – this is what took one man from the sidelines of the football field to the top of a $1.47 billion company called Under Armour (UA).  Founder Kevin Plank began sewing together his first moisture-wicking materials in a basement right here in Georgetown.  On Tuesday evening, over 60 students from the Georgetown University SIM program had the pleasure of hearing one of the core members of the UA team speak, Senior Vice President of Sports Marketing, Matt Mirchin.

Matt started at UA in 2005 as the Senior Vice President of Sales.  Before UA, he worked at Russell Athletic, Champion, and the National Basketball Association.  Matt had a very engaging and informative presentation, which he kicked off with an AC/DC Thunderstruck themed UA commercial.  Matt discussed the four pillars of UA, the company’s four key initiatives, and his own role as a part of the sports marketing team.

As Matt described it, UA solves problems for athletes.  The company’s mission is to “make all athletes better.”  UA’s four-pillar model is based on efforts to build a great product, build a great team, service the business, and tell a great story.  To accomplish these, UA positions itself as the underdog, establishes a connection with consumers, takes advantage of new talent, and builds great products.  The students got to see one of UA’s newest products in action when Professor Jimmy Lynn put on the “Armour Storm” sweatshirt.  Matt poured water over Professor Lynn’s head, and fortunately for Professor Lynn, the sweatshirt’s water-repellent technology worked.

Matt passed around a signed, game-worn, Cam Newton football cleat as he discussed UA’s first initiative, American football (Cam is a huge football player so you can imagine how big his cleat is).  Football has been UA’s bread and butter since the company’s inception, and UA has added to this initiative with the “Undeniable” high school program and the “All-American” high school football game.  Matt explained how UA’s women’s line, their second initiative, supported by U.S. skier Lindsay Vonn and U.S. soccer player Lauren Chaney, is marketed to two different consumer bases: the tough, intense team girl and the casual work-out girl. 

In the third initiative, UA uses Michael Phelps as its biggest global asset, but the company also sponsors the Austrian ski team, Welsh Rugby Union, and the Tottenham Hotspurs, a soccer team in the English Premier League.  UA’s fourth initiative is footwear, and UA is the first company to grow from an apparel company into footwear (all other brands have started in footwear and moved into apparel).  The UA sports marketing team’s main goals are to build a strategic global brand, identify assets and properties to build authenticity, and support growth initiatives by specific country or region.     

Matt flooded students with information about UA and the apparel business but two things he discussed stood out.  The first is something most SIM students will have to confront down the road: “Don’t be a fan.”  Although sport is a form of entertainment and excitement, it is still a business.  As future employees in the sports world, SIM students will need to make rational business decisions while understanding market value and negotiating deals.  The second is something SIM students will also face: relationships.  Under Armour can attribute most of its success to building relationships with athletes, agents, leagues, and other consumers.  Matt told us with confidence that when signing a new partner, “Under Armour always wins the jump ball over other brands.”  SIM students should heed Matt’s advice that building relationships is an important part of success, not only in sports but in any business.  It was a great experience to hear Matt speak, and students definitely walked away having learned something.

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