February 24, 2010: This week, while the eyes of coaches, general managers, scouts, agents and fans will be on the more than 300 players taking part in the NFL Scouting Combine, a good deal of attention also will be paid to Under Armour and its new spokesman, Michael Phelps.
Under Armour, which is in it's second year as presenting sponsor of the event, said it would launch a multi-media campaign, “Protect This House. I Will,” that features the debut of Phelps. The Olympic swimmer's recently signed deal with the Baltimore-based company marks his first new marketing partnership since his infamous "bong photo" in late 2008.
Phelps will be joined in the TV, print, outdoor and Internet effort by such athletes as NFL prospect Dez Bryant, Brandon Jennings of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks and UFC champion Georges St-Pierre.
The campaign, handled in-house along with production company Shilo, is anchored by a 60-second spot that follows Phelps, Bryant, Jennings and St-Pierre as they mirror the players at the NFL Scouting Combine by enduring a series of grueling workouts. Each athlete then "declares his personal 'I Will”' pledge, vocalizing his own determination and overcoming challenges to 'Protect This House,' according to Under Armour.
The spot will break Feb. 27 on NFL Network and will also run on ESPN, ESPN2, CBS Sports, Direct TV, MLB.com, YouTube, Slam.com, and Stack.com. Under Armour said it also would utilize multiple social media channels including the athletes’ respective Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Phelps is also featured in a current spot for Subway running in conjunction with the Winter Olympics and has a deal with Speedo that will carry into the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. His agent is Peter Carlisle at Octagon.
Under Armour's campaign with Phelps is part of the company's attempt to "own" the NFL Scouting Combine, which runs Feb. 24-March 2, during which time more than 300 prospective new NFL players are put through a series of drills, tests and interviews with more than 600 NFL personnel including head coaches, general managers and scouts. The Combine is the last major preliminary before the NFL Draft in April.
Under Armour's presenting sponsorship deal with the league includes signage at Lucas Oil Stadium as well as sponsorship coverage of the Combine across multiple NFL platforms, including NFL Network, NFL.com and NFL.com’s WAP site. In addition, all participants in the Combine will be wearing Under Armour performance apparel and footwear designed specifically for the event.
“We’re very excited to launch ‘Protect This House. I Will.’, which simultaneously highlights Under Armour’s core commitment to combine training and provides an intimate look at some of our most dynamic young athletes," Steve Battista, Under Armour svp-brand said in a statement. "This is one of our most ambitious efforts to elevate the heritage of our training platform, and we feel that Michael Phelps – a true global icon – is an ideal ambassador for the ‘Protect This House. I Will.’ message.”
Battista said Under Armour had other reasons for aligning with Phelps. "Michael is one of the most recognized athletes on the planet, and his apartment just happens to be across the water from us in Baltimore," Battista told the Baltmore Sun. "[And] like all the athletes we sign, we approach them because they're wearing our stuff to begin with.
According to Phelps, “As a Baltimore native, I have always been a fan of the brand and admired their success. Given our mutual commitment to training, this is a natural partnership, and ‘Protect This House. I Will’ is a perfect way to kick things off.”
Other Under Armour endorsers include Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, X-Games gold medal snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis, Olympic volleyball player Kim Glass and lacrosse star Paul Rabil.