CEO's pro-Trump comments force Under Armour into damage control
today Feb 9, 2017
Under Armour has now joined the list of brands and companies treading lightly when it comes to their position on Donald Trump. Following a television appearance on Tuesday by CEO Kevin Plank, during which he made favorable comments about the president, the sportswear giant was forced to go into damage control mode.
"We engage in policy, not politics," said the Under Armour statement, and that the company has “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."
In late January, Plank joined a group of CEOs called to the White House at the invitation of Trump to join his American Manufacturing Council, an effort by the president to elicit input from business leaders to help stimulate job growth in America.
But Plank's appearance on CNBC on Tuesday and pro-Trump statements has meanwhile unleashed waves of criticism on social media and calls for a boycott. During the interview, the CEO said: "to have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country....He wants to build things. He wants to make bold decisions and be really decisive. I’m a big fan of people that operate in the world of ‘publish and interate’ versus ‘think, think, think, think, think.’ So there’s a lot of respect there.”
Under Armour is not the only company facing a firestorm, in part led by the #GrabYourWallet movement, an effort to boycott brands perceived to be pro Trump. In November, New Balance faced a huge backlash following its public support of the new president. This week multiple retailers, including Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, dropped Ivanka Trump's brand, but cited poor sales of the line rather than politics.
With UA's net revenue showing the slowest growth in 8 years at 12% or 1.31B, and the CFO recently leaving, time will tell exactly how much damage Plank's opinions have on consumer preferences towards the brand.
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