Under Armour is the latest brand to have the internet up in arms, thanks to CEO Kevin Plank’s enthusiastic endorsement of President Donald Trump.
Plank was all praise for Trump in an interview with CNBC’s “Fast Money Halftime Report” on Tuesday, saying that his presidency was a “real asset” for Americans.
“He wants to build things. He wants to make bold decisions and be really decisive,” Plank said. “I’m a big fan of people that operate in the world of ‘publish and iterate’ versus ‘think, think, think, think, think’, so there’s a lot that I respect there.”
The comments have triggered a social media backlash, with people going as far as to call “mass burnings” of the company’s garments across America. Brands including New Balance and L.L. Bean among others have faced similar internet outrage due to their association with President Trump in recent months.
— nastywomannc (@nastywomannc) February 8, 2017
Liberal group Grab Your Wallet, which has been at the forefront of urging people to boycott companies that are doing business with or endorsing Trump, also began encouraging consumers to boycott the brand for its support of the President.
— Shannon Coulter (@shannoncoulter) February 7, 2017
But the company is firing back. In an official statement, an Under Armour spokesperson told Digiday that “we engage in policy, not politics.”
“At Under Armour, our culture has always been about optimism, teamwork, and unity. We have engaged with both the prior and the current administrations in advocating on business issues that we believe are in the best interests of our consumers, teammates, and shareholders. Kevin Plank was recently invited at the request of the President of the United States, to join the American Manufacturing Council as part of a distinguished group of business leaders. He joined CEOs from companies such as Dow Chemical, Dell, Ford, GE and Tesla, among others to begin an important dialogue around creating jobs in America. We believe it is important for Under Armour to be a part of that discussion. We have always been committed to developing innovative ways to support and invest in American jobs and manufacturing.”
There have been 152 percent more tweets around Under Armour between February 7-8 as compared to February 5-6, according to data crunched by Amobee. The number of tweets have jumped from 3,700 tweets to 9,300 tweets and counting, as of this morning. Additionally, 40 percent of all tweets in this period have mentioned President Trump.
Further, Under Armour’s sentiment has also swung from being positive during Super Bowl weekend to being 67.9 percent negative yesterday, according to data crunched by Brandwatch. These mentions, according to the company, are “an outcry from people who are ‘disgusted’ that Under Armour’s CEO praised and endorsed Donald Trump.” Further, negative mentions didn’t stop at criticism of Plank and his endorsement. People have threatened to stop buying Under Armour products.
Brands have regularly fallen into political traps in the current polarized climate. Nordstrom, which had been subjected to public pressure for carrying Ivanka Trump’s clothing and accessory line in the past, dropped it last week, claiming it had under performed. Her father slammed the company on Twitter today, causing its shares to initially tumble.
My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2017
Last week, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick left Trump’s informal economic advisory group, after Uber faced intense criticism when it appeared to try to profit off a taxi strike. L.L. Bean and New Balance were also criticized because of positions that their executives, including Linda Bean, took. Meanwhile, Under Armour’s competitors including Nike, Asics and Adidas have all issued statements against the President’s travel ban last week.
Under Armour also took the opportunity to express support for “an inclusive immigration policy.”
“We have teammates from different religions, races, nationalities, genders and sexual orientations; different ages, life experiences and opinions. This is the core of our company. At Under Armour, our diversity is our strength, and we will continue to advocate for policies that Protect Our House, our business, our team, and our community.”