Skip to navigationSkip to content

Under Armour is beating Adidas in the race to eat Nike’s dust

Jonathan Kuck of the U.S. competes in the men's 1,500 metres speed skating race during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 15, 2014. U.S. speed-skaters decided on Friday to drop new, specially designed Under Armour Inc suits that media reports have linked to a dismal showing at the Sochi Games, reverting to apparel worn during recent World Cup events. REUTERS/Issei Kato (RUSSIA - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT SPEED SKATING) - RTX18VKT
Reuters/Issei Kato
Under Armour is winning the battle for second place.
By Kabir Chibber
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Under Armour has overtaken Adidas for the first time among sportswear brands in the US, the Wall Street Journal reported. The US brand’s sales are up 20% to $1.2 billion so far this year, while its German rival’s sales are down 23% to $1.1 billion. But both companies are still several times smaller than the number one sportswear brand. Nike has generated $8.9 billion in sales over the same period.

Under Armour has been upping its profile slowly but surely. It jumped in with a $200-million bid to sponsor basketball superstar Kevin Durant, whose contract with Nike was set to expire. Nike jumped back in with a $350-million offer. “We wanted to send a message to every athletic director, to every president of every team club, to every league commissioner,” Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank told Bloomberg. “If you have a deal, there’s no deal too big for us.”

The firm also successfully boosted its image with viral ads. One featured a ballerina who was told at 13 years old that she didn’t have the right body to make it:

This week, the company launched a new ad featuring Gisele, the highest-paid model in the world and wife of football star Tom Brady, who is sponsored by Under Armour:

Meanwhile, Adidas acknowledged that it has a lot to do if it is to win over US consumers, especially as Nike is doing well in its home German market. ”In America, companies like our two main competitors are constantly reinventing the model,” Adidas’s  North American head Mark King told the Journal. “The people really winning here are adapting to consumers and the marketplace. We just have to move faster.”

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.