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Yusra Mardini, the impressive young swimmer and Syrian refugee who competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics for the official refugee team after fleeing her country’s civil war, is the newest member of the Under Armour family.
The 19-year-old’s harrowing story captured hearts worldwide after she detailed her escape from Damascus in 2015, and how she helped pull the dinghy boat that held her and 17 other refugees across the Aegean Sea after the vessel’s motor died and it began to take on water. Mardini, who currently resides in Berlin, was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador by the UN’s Refugee Agency in April of 2017.
In her new campaign for Under Armour, Mardini recounts various obstacles she’s overcome in her young life — including the time her practice swimming pool in Damascus was bombed — while the tagline, “Turn your pain into strength,” is flashed across the screen.
While competing sportswear companies continue to recruit top models (Gigi Hadid for Reebok; Bella Hadid for Nike; Kendall Jenner for Adidas; Cara Delevingne and Kylie Jenner for Puma) and pop culture influencers, Under Armour has consistently hired athletes to front for their campaigns, including Misty Copeland, Steph Curry and Tom Brady. Last year, another Olympic star — Michael Phelps — also starred in an Under Armour ad.
However, Under Armour’s athlete-driven marketing strategy may not be paying off. Stock of the brand has continued to fall in recent weeks, and it was reported by The Wall Street Journal over the weekend that co-founder Kip Fulks is taking a sabbatical from the company. There is also speculation that Under Armour may withdraw from the tennis and outdoor categories.
Kevin Durant has stated in the past that Under Armour just isn’t cool enough to compete with the likes of Nike. “Nobody wants to play in Under Armour,” he said.
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