On Feb. 7, in an interview with CNBC, Under Armour’s CEO Kevin Plank said of President Donald Trump, “To have such a pro-business President is something that is a real asset for the country. People can really grab that opportunity … 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 iterate versus think, think, think, think, think. So there's a lot that I respect there.”
Shortly after those comments from Plank surfaced, a #BoycottUnderArmour hashtag began trending on social media.
The Baltimore-based company released a statement the following day clarifying Plank’s statement. Plank, who is a member of Trump’s American Manufacturing Council along with leaders from from companies including Dow Chemical, Dell, Ford, GE and Tesla, took a similar tack to Elon Musk in his defense of his involvement with the President’s Strategic & Policy Forum.
“We believe it is important for Under Armour to be a part of that discussion … We engage in policy, not politics. We believe in advocating for fair trade, an inclusive immigration policy that welcomes the best and the brightest and those seeking opportunity in the great tradition of our country, and tax reform that drives hiring to help create new jobs globally, across America and in Baltimore,” the statement reads. “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.”
Several of Under Armour’s highest-profile partners, including Steph Curry, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and ballet star Misty Copeland shared their thoughts on Plank’s comments.
On Instagram, Johnson remarked that “[Plank’s] words were divisive and lacking in perspective. Inadvertently creating a situation where the personal political opinions of UA’s partners and its employees were overshadowed by the comments of its CEO. A good company is not solely defined by its CEO.”
He went on to say that a successful company is built on not one person, but a team of people -- and that he would continue to be committed to Under Armour’s team. “Debate is healthy,” Johnson wrote. “But in a time of widespread disagreement, so is loyalty. I feel an obligation to stand with this diverse team, the American and global workers, who are the beating heart and soul of Under Armour and the reason I chose to partner with them.”
Copeland also took to her Instagram to weigh in. She said that while she was grateful for Under Armour’s support, she disagreed with Plank and spoke with him privately about his comments. She explained that she felt Plank’s words ran counter to the values she believed Under Armour held when she decided to partner with the company in the first place.
“As someone who takes my responsibility as a role model very seriously, it is important to me that [Plank], and UA, take public action to clearly communicate and reflect our common values in order for us to effectively continue to work towards our shared goal of trying to motivate ALL people to be their best selves.”