Viral Review: Under Armour Rules The Roost

This month our viral reviewer tackled the latest effort from athletics company Under Armour. Their ‘Rule Yourself’ ad broke new ground and featured the USA Women’s Gymnastics team showing off their intense training regime.

Under Armour:Rule Yourself – USA Women’s Gymnastics

Rating: 8/10

As its name suggests, Under Armour doesn’t really have time for subtlety. We’re talking about a brand which sells a range of spandex and sports clothing to athletes and calls it armour. And like many athletics brand before them, Under Armour’s advertising efforts tend to operate in terms of superlatives: fastest, strongest, loudest, longest – all in pursuit of some greater goal.

Under Armour’s new spot, the latest entry in the brand’s ‘Rule Yourself’ campaign, is no exception. While previously the brand used its power to multiply Golden State Warriors’ shooter Steph Curry, its latest outing cuts back on the flights of fancy in favour of hard realism. Standing in as the epitome of brute strength, dedication and superb athleticism? The USA Women’s gymnastics team.

Of course, anyone who’s watched Olympic gymnastics knows what a Herculean effort it is. I mean, how many professional sports involve both front flips and co-ordinated ribbon movements? However, advertising hasn’t always seen it that way. While adverts and athletics have had a long and fruitful relationship, this has usually been limited to a small number of sports, and typically following the efforts of men. You’ve probably seen more ads featuring David Beckham than all female athletes combined.

For this reason, the new ‘Rule Yourself’ is a refreshing twist on a tried-and-true genre. Following the gymnastics team – all in their early ‘20’s at most – as they perfect their manoeuvres day and night, the spot has the feel of a gritty training montage. Watching these athletes stretch, jump and push themselves towards gymnastic perfection feels like a workout in and of itself.

Edited with a furious pace to MIA’s ‘Matangi’, we see these women trying, failing, injuring themselves and ultimately succeeding in their chosen sport. Stylistically, it’s redolent of Reebok’s ‘Freak Show’, an ad we love, which gave the same indomitable spirit to the world of crossfit. Even the tagline ‘It’s What You Do In The Dark, That Puts You In The Light’ has a strong, life-coach sentiment to it. Like Reebok, Under Armour is keen to push diligent, difficult exercise as a form of self-improvement.

This is not the only spot the brand has released so far as part of ‘Rule Yourself’. Its counterpart ‘Memphis Depay’ follows the Manchester United winger as he undertakes a similarly mad training routine, including ice baths, cycling in an oxygen mask and running at night under a spooky spotlight. The format is very much the same, except for its focus on a single up-and-coming player, rather than an entire team.

The footballing edition of ‘Rule Yourself’ is a slightly more conventional sports ad, and this shows in its sharing performance. Looking at the figures, the American gymnasts have far out-stripped their footballing colleague. In fact, it’s one of Under Armour’s most successful video campaigns yet, with over 60,000 shares since release.

The brand is also due to release a short film starring legendary swimmer Michael Phelps at the end of March. Perhaps the 18-time gold medal winner can borrow a little magic from these incredible athletes.