At a time when even a perceived relationship with Donald Trump can swiftly become a PR nightmare for a brand, Under Armour‘s CEO Kevin Plank has decided to endorse the President outright. Appearing on CNBC, the U.A. founder said he views President Trump as a “real asset” to his company, going on to say, “He wants to build things. He wants to make bold decisions and be really decisive.” Plank continued to pile on the praise of Trump’s abilities saying, “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.”
Plank is the man in charge of Under Armour and can choose to say whatever he wants, regardless if his views align with those of each and every one of his employees. But to be clear, these comments aren’t just about Trump’s ideals, they’re in support of key Trump policies, which has already inspired backlash:
Previously, statements made by executives at L.L. Bean and New Balance were seen as endorsements of Trump and each were criticized. (Trump also praised L.L. Bean in return on Twitter.) Meanwhile, Nike, Asics, and Adidas all issued statements against the president’s travel ban last week, but Under Armour did not.
Remember, Plank recently joined a council alongside Tesla’s Elon Musk and others to work with Trump on increasing manufacturing jobs in the United States. (Note: Under Armour currently manufactures virtually all of its products overseas save for a specialty factory in Maryland, used to make custom products for athletes and VIP clientele.) Could Plank simply trying to curry favor with President Trump, in hopes he can help pass laws that could make their brand more profitable—or at least give them a shout out on Twitter?
Or, these statements could also be seen as a Hail Mary business move to appeal to new customers, as Under Amour’s stock prices have been stagnant and its CFO just left the company. Plank likened Under Armour’s future success to Tom Brady’s improbable Super Bowl comeback. “You know, I think a lot of people bet against Tom Brady the other night, too,” he said. Good luck with that, Kev.
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