Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank has gone one step further in explaining his recent public expression of support for US president Donald Trump, after some of the sportswear company’s biggest endorsers voiced their disapproval.
Plank purchased a full-page ad in The Baltimore Sun to address comments he made about Trump in an interview last week with business news channel CNBC.
When asked about Trump, Plank told CNBC it was a “real asset” for the US to have such a “pro-business president”.
The Under Armour CEO’s comments drew from some of the company’s biggest endorsers.
NBA star Stephen Curry was one of them, telling The Mercury News he agreed with Plank’s description of Trump, “if you remove the ‘et’” from asset.
Ex-pro wrestler and movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was another one of Under Armour’s endorsers who didn’t agree with Plank’s pro-Trump comments, posting this on Instagram:
I appreciate and welcome the feedback from people who disagree (and agree) with Kevin Plank’s words on CNBC, but these are neither my words, nor my beliefs. His 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. A good company is not defined by the athlete or celebrity who partners with them. A good company is not a single person. A good company is a team, a group of brothers and sisters committed to working together each and every day to provide for their families and one another and the clients they serve. We don’t partner with a brand casually. I partner with brands I trust and with people who share my same values. That means a commitment to diversity, inclusion, community, open-mindedness and some serious hard work. But it doesn’t mean that I or my team will always agree with the opinion of everyone who works there, including its executives. Great leaders inspire and galvanize the masses during turbulent times, they don’t cause people to divide and disband. My responsibility here is not only to the global audience we serve, but also to the thousands of workers who pour blood, sweat, and tears into making Under Armour strong. A diverse group of hardworking men and women who possess integrity, respect and compassion for one another and the world they live in. Debate is healthy. 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. My commitment is as real as my sweat and callouses that thicken daily. #CommittedToThePeople
This forced Plank to quickly clarify his comments in a statement, claiming they were from a business perspective and did not reflect the company’s social stance.
Now he has gone one step further in trying to protect the Under Armour brand by purchasing a full-page ad in The Baltimore Sun, which took the form of an open letter to the US city.
In the letter, Plank admitted he “answered a question with a choice of words that did not accurately reflect my intent” in a “business television interview”, but made no specific reference to Trump.
However, Plank noted that Under Armour opposes Trump’s travel ban, and said the brand “stand[s] firmly for equal rights”.
“We believe that immigration is a source of strength, diversity and innovation for global companies based in America like Under Armour. And I personally believe that immigration is the foundation of our country’s exceptionalism,” he said.
“With an anticipated new executive order on immigration set to come out, we will join a coalition of companies in opposition to any new actions that impact our team, their families and our community.
“We are always mindful of the responsibility we have to those who choose our brand, especially the young people who represent the bold and bright future of a diverse and inclusive America.”