Under Armour experience proves painfully authentic

May 30, 2008|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,Sun reporter

As if on an autumn Sunday, the investors made their way through the dark, dank bowels of M&T Bank Stadium, concrete walls all around them. They wore the team uniform: button-down shirts and khaki pants or dark suits.

Waiting in the locker room was Under Armour Chief Executive Officer Kevin A. Plank and his team of executives, welcoming the investors into the world of the athlete.

"When you walked in you noticed the authentic smell," Plank told the 90 people in attendance yesterday at the Baltimore company's first Investor Day, as the investors tapped on computers and scribbled notes rather than going over football plays. "It's courtesy of the Ravens themselves."

From each locker hung a jersey of a team that wears Under Armour uniforms. University of Maryland on one, Auburn University and Georgetown University on another. The name of an analyst or investor attending the event hung from each locker.

Plank led them through the company's vision for growth. Executives from Steve Battista, vice president of brand, to Suzanne Karkus, senior vice president of apparel, filled the audience in on everything from marketing strategies, plans for new retail stores and ideas for marketing more effectively to women.

Then it was game time.

Toting their briefcases and computer cases, investors and analysts strolled from the tunnel to the field, smoke billowing from the sides, loud music playing in the background and the Ravens mascot giving them high-fives.

After a lunch of french fries and pit beef, they turned off the number crunching and found their inner athlete.

Some tossed footballs with trainers in their work clothes. Others changed into Under Armour workout gear and cross-trainer shoes and were led through a series of drills on the field. They grunted through jump squats and long jump, high jump and running drills. Sweat glistened on their foreheads.

"We wanted them to see life behind the numbers, and this is the perfect environment," said Battista as investors and analysts-turned athletes worked out around him.

Suddenly, a man in a suit came running down the field, yelling "Analyst down!"

Lying on the ground, in the left corner of the field, was a man grabbing his hamstring, grimace on his face.

Trainers rushed to his aid. They stretched his leg back and brought out a pack of ice.

Back to reality.

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

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