A New Audience

Under Armour is an apparel company devoted to providing elite-level products to athletes. Originally, the company’s goal was to provide a sweat-wicking, comfortable T-shirt for use in athletic competition. However, in recent years, the company has expanded and attempted to insert themselves into new industries. One of their recent objectives was to design and introduce multiple shoe styles. Interestingly, the company has committed all of their advertising resources to their athletic shoes, though they offer stylish, casual shoes as well.

The following photographs are legitimate advertisements for Under Armour athletic shoes. These advertisements have multiple characteristics in common. First, there is clear emphasis on the product and a model for the product is absent in two of the three selected ads. The background colors in the ads are all significantly duller in shade than the shoe colors. For Figures 2 and 3, the background is simply a color pattern or gradient. The only actual item in these advertisements are the shoes, which functions to clearly emphasize the products. Even in Figure 1, which provides a legitimate physical background, the colors of the background are a monotone gray, save the shoes and part of the text. This method of isolation of the product is a common advertising practice. The ads are also similar in their targeted audience. Under Armour carries with it a devotion to athletics. Thus, the general target audience for these shoes is the same audience for the company’s general appeal: athletes, fitness gurus, and active people.

Figure 1. “Push” by Under Armour: an advertisement for the first generation Micro G running shoes.

Figure 1 corresponds to the “Push” advertisement for the first generation of Under Armour’s Micro G running shoes. There are certain identifiable techniques employed to create the uniquely casual yet motivating and athletic mood. The actual image portrays the shoes worn with jeans, a sign for casual, everyday dress. Yet, the orange colored shoes create a clear contrast to the connotations associated with jeans. The shoes are designed for athletic performance; the sleek design, aerating mesh, upturned sole that contorts to the human foot in motion, and full lace structure contribute to the assumption that these shoes are athletic. The text selected, a sans font, adds to the casual yet athletic mood of the ad. The only sentence is a motivating phrase about pushing one’s limits. The text is secondary to the product; the jeans lead the eye to the shoe, which occupies the center vertical third of the ad. The overall message of the advertisement, as an accumulation of the analysis performed, is that the shoes reflect the internal yet always prevalent athletic nature of the target audience. To critique this ad, this message is not entirely clear at first glance. The necessity to identify the contrast between the functionally athletic shoes and functionally casual jeans may be more than the viewer, exposed only briefly, can put together.

Figure 2. Web-based ad for Under Armour’s SpeedForm Apollo II running shoe.

The second advertisement promotes the newest generation of Under Armour running shoes: the Under Armour SpeedForm Apollo II’s. These shoes are designed for runners. Most of the details of the advertisement focus on the functionality of the shoe. The images put forth show the profile of the shoe, giving the viewer a complete look at the product. The background and layout work in synchronicity: the background is a simple gradient of black that lightens as it nears the shoes and the rest of the layout is left bare, except for the middle of the page. An important detail in the image is the small, dark circles that signify the shadows of the shoe. These loose circles function to show the shoes as floating. This appearance captures the central message of the shoes: the product is light, gravity-defying light. The weightlessness of the shoe is meant to appeal to the viewer, hopefully a runner, because they will not be bogged down by extra weight. The ad is minimalist, the only sign of text is the Under Armour logo on the shoes. This choice is a fault because the viewer is captured by the look and appearance of the shoe yet is not provided with additional information about these shoes. As successful as this ad is in capturing the viewers attention and expressing the emphasis on functionality of the product, it fails to follow through with vital information the viewer may want.

Figure 3. Under Armour’s selected ad for the addition of their “Charged” technology in running shoes.

The last advertisement portrays the “Charged” characteristic in Under Armour’s running shoes. As a running shoe, the ad is targeted towards active people and specifically runners. As discussed previously, the ads background is basic and darker in shade than the text and the shoe itself, calling attention to the product and tag line. The text is sans-serif: semi-styled with certain letters. The text is kept short and the “Charged” word is in larger font in order to call attention to the defining and new characteristic of the shoe. As cool as the shoe looks, in the electric blue and divided at the sole, there is a lack of continuity in this advertisement. “Charged” is emphasized but is not explained in the image or in additional text. The only inference one can make is that the “Charged” technology will, in some ambiguous way, electrify (for lack of a better word) the wearer of the shoe. Overall, the ambiguity from the ad clouds any delivery of a significant message.

The two ads to be generated will attempt to quell the lack of information offered in the selected advertisements while still maintaining the attention-grabbing features and the sleek style of the three Under Armour ads.



This entry was posted in Blog #2. Researching Print Advertisements, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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