Under Armour has a big Trump problem
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank took out an ad in the Baltimore Sun Wednesday to clarify some of the favorable comments he recently made about President Trump, remarks that were criticized by several of the company’s highest-profile endorsers.
Plank said in an interview on CNBC last week that having a “a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country.”
That remark led Stephen Curry, the star of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and a key Under Armour endorser, to quip that he agreed with Plank’s description of Trump — but only after removing the letters “et” from asset.
Two other prominent Under Armour endorsers, ballerina Misty Copeland and former wrestler turned Hollywood superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, have also taken issue with Plank’s comments on Trump.
In the company’s full-page ad — which appeared in the company’s hometown of Baltimore — Plank said that his “choice of words” in the CNBC interview “did not accurately reflect” his intent.
Plank added that the company stands “firmly for equal rights” and that “immigration is a source of strength, diversity and innovation” for Under Armour and other global companies.
He also wrote that Under Armour opposes Trump’s proposed travel ban on immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
But is the damage to Under Armour’s brand already done?
Sam Poser, an analyst with Wall Street brokerage Susquehanna Financial Group. downgraded Under Armour’s stock to a “negative” rating Wednesday. In other words, he thinks investors should sell the stock.
Poser cited the “reputational risk” and “sloppy management commentary in a polarized political environment.”
He noted in his report that both Nike and Adidas aired commercials during Sunday night’s Grammys telecast that highlighted diversity and equality. Those spots could resonate with younger consumers who do not support Trump.
Poser also pointed out that many of the presenters on the show made political statements that were in opposition to some of Trump’s policies. And performers Bruno Mars and Chance the Rapper both were wearing Nike shoes.
Poser said Plank will have to do more to reassure nervous spokespeople and customers. The big worry is that Under Armour may “alienate the key customer that the brand desperately needs to appeal to in order to build its lifestyle business.”
Shares of Under Armour were flat Wednesday. But the stock is down more than 25% this year, largely due to terrible earnings and a poor outlook that it reported at the end of last month.