Launching Under Armour’s Newest Breed of Technologies.
Under Armour is known for its innovative performance products and compression fabrics; it’s how the company began more than 20 years ago. UA HOVR is a unique combination of a proprietary foam compound developed in partnership with Dow Chemical, and an ‘Energy Web’ compression fabric that wraps it – securing the foam and providing incredible cushioning and shock absorption with every single foot strike.
Under Armour creatively partnered with us to work on the entire launch campaign for not only those two running shoes, but also for the UA HOVR cushioning system itself. The task at hand involved creating content to help Under Armour continue to stand out as a global leader in innovative performance apparel, footwear and equipment with their latest innovation in footwear cushioning technology.
It meant leveraging every facet of our production services to create the abstracted simplifications of the materials, orchestrate the live action shoot with a group of athletes, and conceptually ensure that the story being told across all platforms (social, web, commercial, OOH, and retail) was consistent.
A foam compound midsole and “Energy Web” fabric gives you unprecedented energy return. This ideal combination of advantages makes runners feel and perform better with less fatigue.
Establishing the look and feel of UA HOVR.
UA HOVR is an achievement. The cushioning core of foam expands at an unwieldy rate; its job is endless energy return. The “Energy Web” fabric compresses the foam, harnessing that energy into a moldable midsole. Without one, the other wouldn’t work. It was up to us to visualize the combination to the consumer.
We looked at the materials at a macro level, and abstracted their relationship to focus on the tension between them. The actual process of making it is hard to explain, so our first task was to visualize the technology in a graphic way, then tell a story about how UA HOVR benefits the consumer.
The UA HOVR Consumer Journey – Visualizing the balance of technology was only one aspect of the larger campaign, albeit an important one. Showing the consumer the composition of UA HOVR gave them an appreciation for what Under Armour has created, but without showing them the direct benefit of the product, they have no real context with which to relate. They needed to see the product in action, on foot, on the ground, and for the sake of the concept – in zero g.
Bringing Context to the World of the Zero G Running.
We knew from the get go that weightless photography was going to be a part of this campaign. Any product claiming the “Zero-G” sensation while running warrants it. But we wanted to give the viewers more context than just another abstract red/UA HOVR background. We needed a controlled urban setting were we could art direct in line with the rest of the campaign, providing us full control of lighting and color.
We worked with Regan Jackson, production artist extraordinaire, to visualize and fabricate various urban locations on an extended outdoor set. We built half a city block and filled it with traffic as well as an alleyway shooting off of a construction zone. We wanted real spaces, hit with the red hero color of the product that could serve as obstacle courses for our runners.
Under city lights, a lively crew of runners sprint and leap their way through urban streets, while macro-level visuals of the foam and ‘Energy Web’ technology capture the way in which UA HOVR lifts you up – the cushioning and responsiveness help you physically feel lighter, minimizing the impact on your body and keeping your legs fresh. Emotionally, you feel as though you are being lifted up – the energy that comes from having achieved the euphoric runner’s high.
Those runners were a combination of Under Armour signed talent, brand ambassadors, and some fresh faces with a particular set of skills. These fine people were champions through a 3-day production. It took them from weightlessly running, captured both in motion as well as still photography, to an outdoor all-night shoot racing through the streets of a fabricated city in the heart of LA, our hats off to them.
Editorial Typography for a Global Market.
Messaging is usually left for the end tag. Tell a story, and then give people all the information at the end. Not the case here. With UA HOVR, Under Armour has a superior product. That’s a message that needs to be laced throughout the hero film.
The edit pulled from the energy of the Jamie XX track Gosh that it featured (solid choice we might add), splitting frames in a constant effort to propel the viewer forward and give it the momentum a running film needs. On top of this, we peppered in the messaging as graphic hits, punctuating scenes with typography.
The editorial language and typographic style needed to be updated for a global audience. Working with Under Armour, we laid out 7 languages across their major markets. This film, and the content we made around it, launched in unison around the world, playing in a Chinese airport the same time it was playing in LAX (as reported by our lead animator who recently took a vacation to China and literally saw the add at LAX, and then again when he landed in China). True story.
The phrenetic editorial language of the hero film was intentional. It allowed us to craft a series of UA HOVR-related content for Under Armour to use across their social channels, events, and retail. We over-shot our talent, as well as the colorways of both the Phantom and the Sonic.
With the extra assets we created new content that told stories with a slightly different focus about varying shoes, colors, or talent per global region. It was a ton of content. Along with the work we put into branding the launch of UA HOVR in both motion and print, we carried that same identity into the website experience for Under Armour.
HOVR Website & Beyond.
Using the graphic renders of Energy Web fabric we created for the motion, we crafted a scrolling experience that walks the viewer through the steps of UA HOVR’s creation, embedding imagery, animations, and social links throughout. As with most interactive experience these days – mobile is priority, and the functionality of the site had to service the device in your hand first and foremost.
Thankfully imagery we built for the campaign scales wonderfully for larger screens. Case in point – the UA HOVR House, the interactive retail pop-up Under Armour is currently touring around the nation. All the hard work completed by Under Armour alongside the creative team here at We Are Royale was projected around the inside of the elaborate dome facility. It creates a way to immerse the viewer in what UA HOVR is, and gets their hands on the product and the technology behind it.
Under Armour didn’t come to us as a vendor to execute an idea, they came to us early as a creative partner to help them ideate and visualize what this campaign could be. It was a fantastic collaboration that encouraged open communication and iteration. It led to one of Under Armour’s most successful campaigns, selling out the initial stock of the UA HOVR Phantom in less than five days! The brand film resonated with Under Armour’s Chinese market, one of their largest, and led to a tremendous success story overseas.
“We really appreciated the partnership the team at We Are Royale offered. The collaboration, and the back and fourth led to a fantastic end product that contributed to a solid launching platform for UA HOVR. From the onset, the team understood the bigger picture, and crafted an Innovation Film that had legs to stretch across all touch points of the consumer journey.”
The company is putting all they have behind UA HOVR and breaking into the footwear market in a big way. It’s paying off. They’ve been featured in Forbes over the successful launch (with a bit of our work sprinkled in between the editorial lines).
They continue to do social activations all over major cities around the world. Under Armour’s stock is on the rise, which is a testament to the product they designed and successfully launched. We’re proud to be working with them, and look forward to continuing to push UA HOVR forward as the groundbreaking technology it is.