Mammut is one of several outerwear companies vying for the top spot in an increasingly competitive market. Their recent acquisition of the world’s strongest climber appears in line with their efforts to lead the outdoor industry.
The above advertisement describes an athlete-to-brand partnership that has become common in recent years. The benefit of this type of advertising is that it gives the associated athlete incentive to push the products they help design.
Although skepticism is a part of sifting through marketing, this sort of promotion is good for climbing as a sport. Elite-level athletes require this type of branding to support themselves. Ondra, for example, is recently married and will soon be a father. Opportunities such as this one allow for athletes like Ondra to push in the sport with a degree of financial security. So why did he choose Mammut?
Mammut is a 160 year-old brand that has a long history in mountaineering. Recently, it has begun to spread into the urban markets as well. Mammut’s Urbaneering line is advertised as their first listing and shows where they believe the greatest market potential lies for their products. Although Mammut is popular in Europe the brand is still gaining momentum among climbers and non-climbers in North America and Asia. Moving with Ondra may be Mammut’s way of appealing to a global market.
Ondra’s international reputation precedes him and if his association with the brand will appeal to some climbers. This publicly displayed acquisition is somewhat uncommon in climbing and perhaps shows the sport moving in a more corporate direction. Another recent example of this came from Petzl’s acquisition of Alex Megos.
Meanwhile, in the United States, athletes like US Olympian Brooke Raboutou have acquired sponsorship from Ford as a Team Bronco ambassador. With bigger brands like Adidas having a progressively larger stake in the climbing sphere, sponsorship and athlete-brand relationships will likely increase with the general popularity of the sport.
As the only climber to climb 5.15d and the first to flash 5.15a, Ondra is the most prolific outdoor climber of all time. With the increased value of competition from Tokyo and the prospective Olympics, it will be interesting to see whether indoor climbing exceeds outdoor climbing’s marketing value over time.