Under Armour, in a race to expand its brand globally, opened its first-ever Under Armour Experience, a blend of retail store and promotional venue, in Shanghai, China.
Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of the Baltimore-based athletic apparel maker, hosted the grand opening Friday of the new store with Olympic swimming superstar Michael Phelps, at the Jing An Kerry Centre.
The store uses a multi-dimensional short film to immerse visitors in the Under Armour brand and mission of "making athletes better through passion and innovation," the company said.
"Wherever we go around the globe, we will lead first with our story and bring the people into the best Under Armour experience possible before we ask them to try our performance apparel and footwear," Plank said in a statement. Plank has said the new concept aims to show consumers in China that they don't have to be professional athletes to be passionate about fitness and playing sports -- or to benefit from Under Armour's line of apparel and footwear.
"For many athletes in China, this will be their introduction to our brand," Plank said in the announcement. "By offering this exclusive experience and bringing to life what it means to be an athlete, this is our way to give back to athletes in China and build meaningful relationships that will last for years to come."
The company has opened six Under Armour specialty stores on mainland China in the past two years and one in Taiwan.
Shot with 360-degree camera technology, displayed on a 270-degree screen and hosted by Phelps, the short film combines the energy of Under Armour advertisements with its strategy of telling athletes' stories. It uses vignettes to show defining moments for athletes, including a training session with NBA star Brandon Jennings, rooftop yoga in Shanghai and the running out onto the pitch before a match at White Hart Lane, home of Tottenham Hotspur.
After the film ends, consumers are directed to a section of the store with a limited selection of the brand's footwear and apparel.
"It's exciting to be part of this experience designed to empower Chinese athletes," Phelps said in the announcement. "The passion and energy of Under Armour comes to life through this short film and the message will motivate Chinese athletes to find their will."
And, the company hopes, to choose Under Armour over Nike.