Six years ago, the U.S. sporting goods maker Under Armour hoped to establish a bridgehead in Germany by sponsoring the Bundesliga soccer team Hannover 96.
But it turned out to be a waste of time and effort. To this day, hardly anyone in Germany is familiar with the brand from the East Coast city of Baltimore. The contract with Hannover 96 has long since expired, but Under Armour’s ambition hasn’t.
In the United States things are markedly different, because Under Armour is a hit there among professional athletes. The label surpassed German rival Adidas for the first time this past summer to become the second best-selling sporting goods brand in the United States. Only market leader Nike sells more shirts and shorts in the world’s biggest sporting market.
Now Under Armour is making its second attempt at conquering German locker rooms. The company’s goal is ambitious: “In three years we want to be in the top three,” said Alex Blank, head of the business in Germany. Until now, one would need a magnifying glass to find the brand in German stores. In order to push into the top three, the former Adidas manager will have to bypass well-known brands like Puma or Asics. Only the industry leaders Adidas and Nike seem to be out of reach for the self-confident Americans.