President’s Choice of Jacket at B-Ball Game Sparks Buzz

There's something about President Obama and athletic sportswear maker Under Armour. On Monday night, July 16, the President and First Lady Michelle Obama—along with Vice President Joe Biden—showed up at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. to watch the USA Olympic men's basketball team beat Brazil. Obama was wearing a dark blue Under Armour zip-up jacket.

This isn't the first time the President has sported a Under Armour product. In November 2011, Obama wore custom-made Under Armour sneakers to one of his regular pick-up basketball games. Now, in today's world of social media, it isn't unusual for famous people with millions of Twitter followers to hawk products (for a price). But when a sitting president semi-regularly wears a company's logo, its bound to get attention.

As did another world figure back in 2006. Pope Benedict XVI made news then by wearing Serengeti-branded sunglasses and brown walking shoes donated by Geox. It turns out that the founder of Geox was a friend of the Pope's spokesperson.

In this case, there's a plausible reason why Obama wears Under Armour: the company is a local (Maryland-based), small business success story—a story that Obama likely is happy to indirectly promote given the economy and the election year. The president's appearance with the jacket certainly gained attention. Google "Obama, Under Armour, USA Basketball" and you get 303,000 results. A post on the company's Facebook page said: "President Obama rockin' that Under gear at the USA vs. Brazil basketball game! Hey, at least he has good style!"

It remains to be seen if this executive product placement results in more sales for Under Armour. If anything, the president's fashion choice was good timing for Under Armour: An Inc. magazine article appearing Thursday, July 12 featured "4 Tips for Building a Mighty Brand" by Under Armour founder Kevin Plank—a solid media placement. Tip No. 4 is "Trust Mom." Plank's mother helped Plank get the company started by providing funds and introducing her son to key contacts.

If there was a Tip No. 5, it might be "Recruit the President."

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About Scott Van Camp

Scott Van Camp is editor of PR News, an executive-level, reader-supported publication that helps enhance the business impact of PR. Scott has a rich background in both journalism and PR/marketing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer/editor at various consumer and trade publications. Scott was with VNU Business Publications for five years, including stints as managing editor at IQ News and Technology Marketing magazines and senior editor at Brandweek. In the PR/marketing sphere, he has served as corporate communications manager at MarketBridge, a marketing and sales consultancy, and as editorial director for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. While at the Council, Scott led several high-profile marketing research projects. He has also operated his own communications and media consulting firm, SVC Communications.

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