Under Armour, the brand known for its testosterone-fueled "protect this house" motto and commercials with Ray Lewis and Tom Brady, is angling for a different clientele in a new campaign.
It features a woman who doesn't participate in competitive sports. But she does have a body that is in peak physical condition and endures the kind of physical demands that would make most men cry.
She is Misty Copeland of the American Ballet Theatre.
In a one-minute spot launched Monday, Copeland performs in Under Armour gear -- a tank top and its Pure Stretch Cheeky underwear -- while a voiceover explains how she was initially rejected by a ballet school:
Copeland, 31, told the New York Times that she never received a particular rejection letter that harsh but the sentiments rang true: "Once I hit puberty I experienced all of those things."
Women athletes with Under Armour contracts have included Lindsay Vonn (skiing), Sloane Stephens (tennis), Maddie Peterson (surfing), Kelley O'Hara (soccer), Alicia Sacramone (gymnastics) and Lindsey Jacobellis (snowboarding).
"Misty is a ballerina, she's not a competitive athlete, but she brings a modern athleticism to a very traditional art form, and she pushes the boundaries on the status quo of the word 'athlete,' " said Leanne Fremar, executive creative director of Under Armour's women's division, to the Times. "There are a lot of sports, activities, hobbies and passions that women are engaging in that are athletic and physical and should be celebrated, whether it's dance or soccer or kickboxing or spinning.”
The Times also reports that this campaign is part of the company's overall strategy to connect with female consumers: "Annual revenue for women's apparel for the company is about $500 million, half of men’s, at $1 billion, and Under Armour has long contended that its goal is for the women's segment to grow as big as, if not bigger than, the men's."
The men's side is still growing and adding more big-name stars to its roster. Cornerback Patrick Peterson, who signed a 5-year, $70 million extension with the Cardinals this week, also just switched from Nike to Under Armour.
"At Nike I just felt like another guy and didn't have an opportunity to build a brand and get into the football community as far as the kids and high schools," Peterson told Forbes. "Under Armour is giving me the ability to build a brand and help this company grow. It has so much upside. Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Ed Reed. Seeing the progression it is making each and every year is unbelievable."