Misty Copeland's New Under Armour Ad Is a Testament to Perseverance

Earlier this year, Under Armour released a set of ads starring American Ballet Theatre soloist Misty Copeland. As part of their push to gain more of the women's market, they've now put out their first commercial with Copeland, who looks pretty badass.


In an interview with Women's Wear Daily last week, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank said that continuing their partnership with Copeland was a key way to continue to increase their number of female consumers. It seems to be working; the company reportedly saw their revenue grow by over 30 percent in the second quarter of this year:

"So, yes, it's a ballerina in an Under Armour ad," Plank said, making a reference to the brand's more masculine image.

But he added that Copeland's rise in the dance community is reflective of the brand and that her "athleticism is overwhelming and will communicate that in a fully integrated way including an online presence markedly different from what we've done in the past."

The commercial shows Copeland dancing while a young voice (the New York Times says the voice belongs to a 14-year-old girl named Raiya Goodman) reads a rejection letter from a ballet school. It lists the flaws in the candidate's body, as the camera pans over those parts on Copeland:

Dear Candidate,

Thank you for your application to our ballet academy. Unfortunately you have not been accepted. You lack the right feet, Achilles tendons, turnout, torso length and bust. You have the wrong body for ballet. And at 13, you are too old to be considered.

Then, the music changes and Copeland breaks free, showing off some of that dancer athleticism that the brand believes should be considered as valued as that which is celebrated in male-dominated sports.

The commercial ends with the words "I Will What I Want," which is a website Under Armour has set up specifically for women. The homepage for that site reads:

Under Armour is starting a new conversation with women. One that celebrates the WILL to find inner strength and to follow no one. In partnership with MapMyFitness, Under Armour has launched a digital community where you can connect with other individuals, including our Women of WILL. You will also be able to participate in the first global fitness platform where women all over the world can support and spotlight each other for living their lives on their own terms.


While Copeland told the Times she never personally received such a harsh letter of rejection, she has spoken openly about the challenges she's faced as a black woman who started dancing relatively late in life, especially in her recent memoir Life in Motion. The other women featured in this campaign are pretty cool too: skier Lindsey Vonn, tennis player Sloan Stephens and soccer player Kelley O'Hara.

Illustration for article titled Misty Copeland's New Under Armour Ad Is a Testament to Perseverance

Images via Under Armour


I remember right after I went en pointe as a kid, the Chicago Tribune ran a full-page side-by-side comparison (in the sports section) of a ballerina's body compared to Michael Jordan's. It detailed how it takes just as much training, muscle, strength and agility to perform as a ballerina as it is to make dazzling NBA plays - if not more. I wish I could find it now. Totally inspiring.