Under Armour’s ‘I Will What I Want’ Campaign: Please Sir, I Want Some More

“You lack the right feet, Achilles tendons, turnout, torso length and bust.”

“You have the wrong body for ballet.”

Confused with what I am talking about? Then check out the incredible video below.


Do you have goose bumps? Is there a big ‘ole dopey smile on your face? Do you want to get up out of your seat and dance right about now? Such is the power of Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” marketing campaign which comprises of 60-second clips that show powerful female athletes overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve success.

In the above clip, we get brought into dancer Misty Copeland’s awe-inspiring ballet story. We feel the dejection and unworthiness right alongside her. Then we feel her power and confidence as she carves her own fate—in the face of great challenge. You may have never danced a day in your life; you may not even be a woman; but I guarantee you this marketing campaign had some sort of effect on you.

This ad is a homerun in every sense of the word. Adweek dubbed the inaugural commercial as this year’s “best campaign targeting women.” Since then, the marketing venture has taken on a life of its own. For example, it has generated its own hashtag on Twitter, its own blogging platform and a dedicated section of the Under Armour website. Its immense success has encouraged other female powerhouses like Lindsey Vonn and Sloane Stephens to share their stories as well.

But the reasons why it’s a homerun are so much greater than the fact that it’s brilliantly filmed and produced. Let’s take a look at what content marketing lessons we can learn from this Under Armour campaign:

  • Shorter is Better: The voiceover in the clip only speaks for a quarter of the video, meaning Under Armour relies on music and movement to tell the rest of the story. Think of your own content strategy. Are your blogs often closer to 700 words than 300? Do your white papers go on for 10 pages? In other words, are you running a bit long-winded with your content efforts? Because we are inundated with so many marketing messages a day—some pundits suggest we see about 5,000 ads a day—our attention span is dwindling. So go for impact over longevity and chances are the message will stick with your target audience longer.
  • Subliminal Advertising is Best: How many times do you tweet about the capabilities of your flagship offering? Are your email marketing messages filled with sales pitches? The beauty of the “I Will What I Want” ads is that you don’t even realize they are campaigns for the apparel company until the final moment when the logo flashes. In fact, in the case of the Misty Copeland video you may have to watch it a few times to realize that the dancer is donning the company’s workout clothing while gliding effortlessly. Take a look at your existing content strategy and see how you can more subtly insert calls to action and soft sales pitches without alienating your reader.
  • Emotion is Key: Without question all of the “I Will What I Want” campaigns possess emotional triggers. They inspire, encourage and uplift. What affect does your content have on your readers? Does your latest case study leave your reader thinking, “Boy would I love to work with this company!” Does your most recent Facebook status update have your followers thinking, “Hmm, I never realized I had this pain point?” Content marketing works when readers are encouraged to take action. It’s most effective when it evokes a specific emotion. So put each of your content assets through the emotional trigger test—and see if you can pinpoint what reaction and behavior will result from reading the asset.

I’ve spent a lot of time these past few months talking about the effectiveness of the Misty Copeland ad—on our Content Boost webinars and in our content marketing collateral. Most recently, on Dec. 4 during our first-ever Content Marketing Crash Course, I asked a room of 50 marketers if they have ever seen the Misty Copeland “I Will What I Want” campaign and what they thought of it.

You know you’ve witnessed content marketing magic when nearly 20 percent of a room raises their hand to show they’ve seen the ad, especially in an age where we have a hard time even remembering what we ate for breakfast that morning.

My hat’s off to you Under Armour.

Carrie-SDubbed a “Chatty Cathy” from the time she uttered her first word, Content Boost’s Director of Content Marketing Carrie Majewski (née Schmelkin) is nothing short of verbal. Her love of talking matured into love of writing which inevitably transformed into a love of marketing. Carrie is responsible for overseeing the cutting-edge content marketing beast that is Content Boost—managing brand and editorial strategy, fostering client relationships, identifying new revenue opportunities and striking strategic partnerships. Carrie has worked with a variety of high profile clients on branding and copy creation from Sprint to Panasonic to AT&T to Emerson Network Power. When she’s not busy wordsmithing and debating content marketing versus traditional marketing, you can find her working on her swag in a hip-hop dance class, clogging her DVR with “Friends” reruns and trying desperately to make it up past 9:30 pm on the weekends with her hubby. #OldSoul.

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