Over the course of the Covid-19 crisis, many celebrities, athletes, and musicians have been focusing on growing their brand and trying to build a feeling of normalcy through social media. Players are talking about their love of basketball on podcasts, live tweets, and various other social media platforms and you’re seeing their passion and the efforts they are making to stay connected to the game. One of the things I’ve seen are players showing more of their homelife, their quarantine beards/hair, what they do when they are bored, and sharing more of their personality. It’s great to see, especially as a black man seeing other black men doing well, being great fathers, husbands, etc. What comes with that is an intense critique because people are paying attention a lot more. People are quick to make criticisms about anything and everything. You could easily become a meme if you’re not careful. When you’re a brand ambassador, you have to be on your toes at all times and anticipate reception for whatever they put out.
A couple of days ago, Steph Curry went on IG showing him eating, and the camera pans over to his wife, Ayesha, and she’s wearing Adidas joggers. While there’s nothing wrong with this, and no she is not the branded athlete herself, it does beg the question why she’s not supporting her husband’s brand, Under Armour. I could be reading into this too much, maybe it was an innocent slip, but I can’t help but wonder why she’s not wearing UA and if it could mean there’s a bigger issue brewing between Steph and UA. If I’m UA right now, I’d find this very troubling. I’d be worried that the company’s relationship with Steph is not what I thought it was. Steph is the face of the UA brand, and UA needs to start doing a better job of nurturing this relationship.
Nike has been taking opportunities to showcase their gear on social media by sending care packages to their athletes like Lebron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo. This is easy social media coverage. UA had a great idea of dedicating their resources to making masks with companies like Nike following in their footsteps. What they should have done next is send Curry a care package with comfy clothes, masks, and not just for Steph, but for the entire Curry family. A couple years ago, Steph received a letter from a little girl who wanted there to be more sizes available for girls in his shoes. Steph got on board immediately to make this a reality. It would be an easy transition to have even more gear available for women. Partnering with Ayesha and having her and their daughters rock UA gear on Mother’s Day would have been the perfect opportunity. Ayesha could be the perfect ambassador to bring UA to the forefront of women’s athletic and athleisure wear. She has already built up a solid platform through her culinary work and being a mother, this would be the perfect opportunity to reach a huge audience. You could start a huge movement by involving women in this process, have women contribute to the designs of the leggings – a for women by women initiative.
Father’s Day is around the corner. UA should have already prepped some Father’s Day gear with a post ready to go about him, his contributions to his community, and of course about the type of father he is and how he sets a great example for us to all emulate. Include gear for his kids too and ask him to take a photo with them. Also have a real conversation with him now before you get too close to his contract end date. Find out what UA can do to strengthen this partnership and make it mutually beneficial. There’s so much potential here to not only benefit the brand, but be there with Steph while he supports causes he believes in.
Rumor has it that Joel Embiid, UA’s second NBA signature athlete, will have his first signature shoe released this fall. If this is true, a great opportunity would be to send Joel a pair now and have him open the box live over social media. Generate some hype and positivity so people start to get excited over their release. Include him in upcoming conversations about the shoe release, have everything ready to go so you can get head start on things, especially with basketball season headed towards a re-start. Joel himself has said to ESPN that he wants this partnership to be about more than shoes, and about more than just basketball, that helping others is the ultimate goal. I hope UA can make this vision a reality.
With two great NBA athletes, Steph, top shooter of all time, and Joel, easily a top 10 player, I feel UA needs to step up and show they are all in when it comes to their partnerships with these athletes. Just because you have someone on contract, don’t take it for granted. Athletes can leave. You can’t really put a price on brand loyalty, and the fact Steph showed a video of his wife wearing Adidas shows you really can’t buy loyalty either. You have to earn it and UA needs to start doing more to demonstrate they are a brand worth being loyal to.