Under Armour, Cal Ripken Hit A Branding Homer

One of the most effective ways to grow brand remains at the grassroots level. The direct daily contact with the consumer still cannot be beaten by all the Facebook-ing, blogging and YouTubing that brands attempt, and even the high impact effect of mass media, both print and broadcast, still resonates only partly with what we use as consumers every day. All are parts of the picture, but going to direct to consumer for what they need remains king. Even better, when you can make a strategic tie to a local community, the positive impact for the long range goes up another notch. Such was the case this week when Under Armour, already a giant in the apparel business, announced a deal with Ripken baseball. The tie between the two brands hits on many bases. First, it ties two Capitol District brands together, the legendary Oriole and his business, with Kevin Plank's DC success story, sending the message of two local guys again working together for a bigger good. Second, it seeds Under Armour product direct to a growing baseball community through Ripken Baseball, one of the most efficient and well run entities in the sport. Third, through Ripken's global work, it can give Under Armour the potential international platform that they have been looking to grow. Lastly it sets Ripken's brand apart from most others in the space, in grabbing the perceived “cool” in the youth market for Under Armour's apparel. All the connections are smart, strategic and even in a slow economy, show that both the sport of baseball and the Under Armour brand continue to grow.

Some other good reads…Business Week had a good piece this week on the reinvention of network TV…while The Nation had an interesting read on how the newspaper collapse is paralleling what happened to the telegraph… Cincy.com had a good piece on how cause-related marketing is doing well with brands…and NPR had a pretty strong segment on what brands are doing to try and grow their place in schools through public service programs.

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