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Under Armour Works to Connect With Women

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Under Armour is determined to strike a chord with female athletes -- many of whom have been buying the brand, but aren't that emotionally attached to it.

The company has kicked off a campaign that includes a Facebook page dedicated to women's performance apparel. The target demographic is a female consumer who "trains in Under Armour, but doesn't really know about the product other than [that] it's her boyfriend's brand," said Adrienne Lofton, senior marketing director of Under Armour's women's business.

While Under Armour has tried to reach out and engage with women via traditional media like print and TV in the past, the level of interaction wasn't as high as what it saw on the men's side of the business, which boasts high "brand loyalty," said Lofton. That's why the new effort -- created by Under Armour's in-house team and agencies Shilo, WMIG and Cramer-Krasselt -- aims to reach women where they're most active: online.

The campaign, part the brand's "Protect This House. I Will" program, includes a star-studded lineup of athletes. There is Lindsey Vonn, an Olympic gold medalist downhill skier; soccer sensation Lauren Cheney; and track and field runner Monica Hargrove.

One 60-second spot takes viewers through the grueling, daily training these female athletes endure. Vonn lifts weights and balances herself atop a yoga ball, for instance, while Cheney collides with a player on the soccer field.

Each of the female athletes will be featured individually in TV commercials. There is also a coed spot with professional male athletes including basketball player Brandon Jennings and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

Additionally, Under Armour has struck a deal to run a back-to-school Web series across Alloy Media + Marketing's network of sites. Those videos are part of an effort called "In Session," and include personalities like celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson and clothing designer Whitney Port offering exercise tips. The Web series kicks off Sept. 10. The videos will run on Alloy.com, Gurl.com and Takkle.com as well as partner sites across Alloy's digital network.

The video series and new campaign are part of Under Armour's strategy to introduce women to the brand's different training and performance apparel. "It aims to get beyond the message that this brand is the best in the world in performance training, but we have these amazing pieces she hasn't seen yet," Lofton said.

Borrowing from the theme of the campaign, a Facebook application dubbed Our House also launches today. It allows women to share videos and exchange workout tips with others. Subsequent enhancements will include personalized workout tip videos and live chats with some of the athletes in the campaign.

William Sutton, professor and associate director of the University of Central Florida's DeVos Sport Business Management Program, said Under Armour's strategy could succeed. He's already seeing many high school athletes -- male and female -- wear the brand. Sutton added that by reaching out and connecting with teens, the brand is building a more loyal consumer base.