Misty Copeland–The Ballet Dancer in Under Armour


Misty-Copeland (detail) photo: Henry Leutwyler

Misty Copeland is so perfect for the Under Armour brand that if she didn't exist, the company would have had to invent her.

Misty Copeland is among the most beautiful people on earth--a mix of strength and balance, control and courage, determination and grace that routinely makes observers' hearts pound. A dance prodigy, Copeland took up ballet at the age of 13, yet rose swiftly to become a soloist at the American Ballet Theater--only the third African-American female soloist at ABT. Copeland is also now the extraordinarily well-chosen focal point of a massive new marketing campaign to promote Under Armour to women. Under Armour is, of course, the apparel brand that can't stop, won't stop--to borrow some hip-hop parlance. The Baltimore-based company just announced the kind of quarterly earnings that make investors feel like they are dancing with Misty Copeland. (Under Armour is on track to hit $3 billion in sales this year.)

Part of Under Armour's extraordinary growth can be attributed to its doing what every narrowly focused brand must do to grow--broaden its appeal. Under Armour, which began by targeting elite athletes and winning them over through performance advantages, has managed also to become the attire of choice for paunchy 40-something men out mowing their lawns. Now CEO Kevin Planck is determined to make sure women are part of the Under Armour revolution. He wants them to leave Lululemon and Nike behind. Misty Copeland is the one to do it, too. As athletic as any women's World Cup star, as zen as any yoga master, Copeland's arts-infused identity betokens a cerebral as well as a physical ambition that sets her apart from everybody else. Misty Copeland is so perfect for the Under Armour brand that if she didn't exist, Under Armour would have had to invent her.

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 Misty Copeland from Under Armour Women's Facebook page