By Holden Wilen | Baltimore Business Journal

Michael Phelps was the star of the show when Under Armour launched its new marketing campaign in January.

Under Armour unveiled its “The Only Way Is Through” campaign with Phelps reading a letter about the grueling hours of training and practice he put in to become the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time. He then became the first athlete to participate in Under Armour’s new podcast.

It’s fitting that Under Armour chose the iconic swimmer from Baltimore to be one of the main faces of the campaign. Like Phelps, Under Armour experienced a rapid rise to national prominence. Also like Phelps, Under Armour has faced challenges.

At times during his career, Phelps sometimes made headlines for the wrong reasons. He pleaded guilty to driving while impaired and, in another case, driving while under the influence of alcohol. A photograph of Phelps using a bong went viral in 2009.

Under Armour is currently facing its own challenges. The sportswear maker is coming off a three-year transformation period after experiencing a slowdown in North American sales. Its stock price fell dramatically during that time. Under Armour’s accounting practices are also the subject of federal probes, though the company has said it did nothing wrong.

Will Under Armour be able to recover like Phelps did? Phelps said there is always “that moment” where an athlete is able to push through something in order to reach a big goal.

“I think the biggest thing is trying to figure out what the moment is,” Phelps said. “Processing and going through and asking for help, learning through it; all of that stuff I think is what’s going to help them get through. I think a great way is to almost simplify it. We’re all trying to accomplish something. Every single one of us out here, we have goals that we want to achieve. So how are you going to be able to get through those?”

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Under Armour

Issue 261: February/March 2020

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