Under Armour expands deal with DC Comics, re-launches Alter Ego line

By Under Armour standards, the launch of the company's Alter Ego line -- specifically a Superman base layer shirt -- earlier this year was quiet.

The success, though, was typical: the Baltimore-based manufacturer found it had tapped into a new market, selling out of the limited-edition shirts within hours.

Now Under Armour and DC Comics -- which previously worked together to create football uniforms for the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" -- have expanded their agreement and introduced an entire line of super-hero inspired gear. You can get a look at the men's shirts on the Under Armour website. Notice Ravens running back Bernard Pierce modeling one of them in the banner atop the page.

This is shrewd marketing by Under Armour, which has been very direct about positioning its brand to appeal to serious athletes. This move keeps with that gritty vibe but also reaches new consumers who are fans of DC's comic book heroes. It also helps Under Armour appeal to children; the company has worked on becoming the "it" brand for young athletes.

I reported a story this week on the sports sponsorship market, specifically in Baltimore. Obviously Under Armour is a major player, striking up deals with the Ravens, Preakness and the Baltimore marathon. But because it is ultimately competing with Nike and Adidas, it must find deals like this one that resonate across the world.

Under Armour hadn't exactly been coy about the possibility of expanding its Alter Ego line, including a Superman base layer shirt in the "Ready for August" football commercial that debuted this month.

"Superhuman feats are accomplished by athletes every day. Whether it's achieving a personal goal or competing on the field, we wanted to enable athletes to feel like a super hero and show off their alter ego," said Glenn Silbert, Vice President, Men's Youth, and Accessories, Under Armour according to a news release. "Our partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and the resulting Under Armour Alter Ego collection has exceeded our expectations, and we look forward to expanding this concept, as well as our long-term partnership."

The shirts, which feature a wide range of DC characters, are available in stores now and will be through the fall, according to Under Armour.