In a move that underscores its increased focus on lifestyle apparel, Under Armour announced it has signed Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson to a long-term partnership deal. The relationship will bring Johnson in to help develop a range of apparel, footwear and other accessories and products for the UA brand.
The company also says Johnson will be involved in the creation of original content for the brand. The content will be centered around, or inspired by, Johnson's lifestyle, fitness regimen, and philanthropic initiatives. He also plans to help promote several of the brand's mobile apps and fitness platforms.
Some of the new apparel will also be inspired by upcoming movie project Johnson is involved in. UA cited a "Rock-inspired backpack and duffle bag" that will be available in stores within the next few weeks.
Johnson joins a long list of athletes signed as sponsors for Under Armour, including Stephen Curry, Tom Brady, Jordan Spieth, Cam Newton, Bryce Harper, Carey Price, Clayton Kershaw, Lindsey Vonn and Michael Phelps. But like ballet star Misty Copeland and supermodel Gisele, both of whom signed with UA in 2014, his celebrity comes from outside the world of sports.
While Johnson played college football and started his career as a professional wrestler, he makes his living as an entertainer. It seems likely that UA will use his non-athlete status to generate appeal for their products among non-athletes, expanding its lifestyle apparel line and seeking to connect with average people with an interest in fitness. That's an area of sports retail where competitors like Nike and Adidas are more firmly entrenched than Under Armour, a relative newcomer in the sports apparel space (but one that surpassed Adidas as No. 2 in U.S. sales in 2015.)
Strategic relationships with current athletes have helped Under Armour grow certain sports product lines, such as its golf imprint, by leaps and bounds within the past few years. A celebrity with the personality and visibility of Johnson could be instrumental in pushing those lifestyle products out to the masses.
"We wanted to empower as many people as possible to attack their goals, so we partnered with the best innovators in the health and fitness business. Together with Under Armour, we will deliver game changing products to help people get after it and chase greatness," says Johnson in a press release.
To further indicate that direction, Under Armour will also use its Fitness app UA Record to make Johnson's workouts and exclusive training tips available to users. More than any of its current athlete endorsers, this positions Johnson as an unprecedented bridge between the brand and its target consumer base, using content, social engagement and a focus on lifestyle branding to strengthen its relationships with customers.
Under Armour says Johnson will also be involved in promoting the company's philanthropy, UA Freedom, which focuses on providing service to military, first responder and public safety personnel.