Even the toughest fitness buffs struggle to stay active in extreme temperatures, so to tout the benefits of its UA ColdGear apparel, Under Armour did something extreme, too. Enter: the world’s first Ice Gym, an immersive fitness environment where consumers could test the technology behind UA ColdGear through curated cold-weather workouts activated inside an “igloo.” Under Armour brought the experience to the Nov. 3 Notre Dame vs. Northwestern college football game—a key platform for the brand, given both schools are sponsored by Under Armour and located in cold-weather cities. The activation marked the 20th anniversary of the UA ColdGear mock turtleneck, the catalyst for the broader product line.
In the hours leading up to kickoff, fans had the opportunity to stop by the UA ColdGear Experience to see if they had what it took to complete workout challenges inside the Ice Gym. The journey began with a multisensory experience featuring dry ice, wind, fake snow, choreographed lights and a digital display of wintery scenery to replicate a frigid environment and educate attendees on the history of ColdGear. Participants then entered the main experience inside the igloo, where an ice-laden training circuit awaited. We’re talking kettlebells, dumbbells and barbells made of ice, ice bench presses, ice gymnastics rings, an ice slider and beyond. Brrrrr.
“We wanted to show consumers how [UA ColdGear] helps you stay warm even in the coldest temperatures,” says Kelley Walton, head of global experiential marketing at Under Armour. “The best way to do so was to offer an experience that could put the product to the test. We thought, why just tell consumers that it works when we can show them?”
Watch Under Armour’s Ice Gym Come to Life:
The ColdGear Experience also included interactive, 360-degree body heat maps projected onto the walls of the igloo, demonstrating how attendees maintained their body temperature while sporting ColdGear apparel. There was also a thermal selfie station where participants could capture their personal heat map, an Ice Wall where names of participants were etched after they completed the challenge, ice sculptures of Northwestern’s Willie the Wildcat and football players for photo ops, and surprise giveaways and exclusive coupons from retail partner Dick’s Sporting Goods. In addition, Under Armour gave each participant a gift card for $10 off the purchase of UA ColdGear items at Dick’s.
To amplify awareness of the ColdGear Experience, Under Armour invited social influencers to check out the Ice Gym the day before it opened to the public, allowing them to broadcast the content they captured on their own channels, in addition to executing takeovers of Under Armour’s social channels. During the live experience, regular attendees were encouraged to add #UAColdGearExperience to their social posts. The social strategy was part of the brand’s increased efforts to embrace the “phygital” trend of seamlessly connecting physical and digital experiences.
“We had a dedicated event hashtag that helped us aggregate content that was being shared over the two days,” says Walton. “Of course, the social strategy only works as well as the experience, so we made sure that each element of the experience was engaging and exciting enough for participants to want to share what they were doing with their own networks.” Agencies: RED, Santa Monica, CA; IMG Live, Norcross, GA.
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