British Modernism in Under Armour “I Will What I Want” campaign

The recent advertising initiatives around the female adoption of sports companies and disport behavior, as with all design trends, is a reflection and homage to the past methods and discoveries in design around the world. With the recent display of Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” campaign, we are seeing these same lessons we learned from the early 1900’s making a reappearance.

In 1918, just after the war, there was a cultural response that suggested a lack of ethical standards present in society, and that society provides little moral guidance. The response to this lack of sophistication promoted the presence of team sports by implying that they could bring soul back to the anomic world. Bullying was becoming more present in society, and as a result “robotically formalized” intensive purposeful action, and questioning gender roles, became synonymous with the movement.

Nike was the major sporting brand to pay respect these traditional graphic design techniques to a campaign in the early 2000’s, and because of their efforts we as advertisers have learned a few things about human behavior. Most notably is that females do not respond to the idea of labels and celebrity endorsements, for example the famous take away from the movement said: “I am not a runner; I just run”. This singular idea furthered the concept of breaking down the human body as being a machine, and that aggressive competition should be used to transform the body and spirit.

In the new campaign by Under Armour, women are leaving us with the message “I Will What I Want”, as they are shown in these same robotically formalized, intensive and purposeful actions. In the ad featuring model Gisele Bundchen, Under Armour shows a modern take on bullying, and the questioning of gender roles in society. The use of celebrities within the ads is used carefully to show the problems they face, and not to come out and say “I use Under Armour and so should you” because of that lack of response mentioned previously.

Breaking this campaign down to its simplest elements and design inspiration was not done to suggest a reduction in the value of the campaign, but rather to show how Under Armour has addressed the continuing issue of gender roles, and the prevalence of sexism in culture. To go forward from here, the hope of British Modernism was to reintegrate ourselves (and game) into our lives despite this lack of sophistication, and that through training we might improve our world as a whole. It is an exciting time to live in, and the efforts of these companies are advancing the quality of advertising and culture in an anomic world.

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