By Michael D’Abramo
You may have heard that Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank said, of President Trump: “To have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country. People can really grab that opportunity.” Obviously, this comment can have an impact on the Under Armour brand. We’ve seen protests and boycotts around brands affiliated with President Trump. Take Shopify’s CEO back-breaking defense of its decision to service product from Breitbart, the right-wing news service.
But what if it isn’t protesters? What if it is other ‘brands’? Three Under Armour spokespeople have come out to speak against the CEO who effectively pays them.
- Actor Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson: “His words were divisive and lacking in perspective. Inadvertently creating a situation where the personal political opinions of Under Armor’s partners and its employees were overshadowed by the comments of its CEO.”
- Ballet dancer Misty Copeland: “I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank’s recent comments in support of Trump as recently reported… I’ve never backed away from speaking openly about is the importance of diversity and inclusion. It is imperative to me that my partners and sponsors share this belief.”
- NBA Superstar Steph Curry: Referring to Plank’s description of Trump as an “asset,” NBA star and Under Armour-sponsored athlete Steph Curry said: “I agree with that description, if you remove the ‘et.'”
These spokespeople are making it clear where they stand so their personal brand is not tarnished by associating with a brand that is associated with the President.
The attack from within has caused a new problem for Under Armour: A loss of confidence on Wall Street. Susquehanna’s Sam Poser downgraded the stock, cutting his price target from $24 down to $14. His reason, it is “nearly impossible to effectively build a cool urban lifestyle brand in the foreseeable future.” Johnson, Copeland and Curry were seen as gateways to ‘cool urban lifestyle’ for Under Armour. Now these people are just protecting their brands, at the potential expense of their ‘employer’.
It will be interesting to see how Mr. Plank responds.