A week after Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank was roundly drubbed for his glowing remarks about President Donald Trump, Plank wants everyone to know that he didn't really mean it, and like anyone else with an operating moral compass he thinks that at least one of Trump's policies stinks, too.
It's likely been a rough couple days for Plank, who last week told CNBC that he believed that the President was a "real asset...He wants to build things. He wants to make bold decisions and be really decisive."
Plank, who along with Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, Ford CEO Mark Fields, Dell's Michael Dell, General Electric's Jeff Immelt, Tesla's Elon Musk, U.S. Steel's Mario Longhi, and Boeing's Dennis Muilenburg, is a member of Trump's manufacturing council, said "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."
When asked about Plank's discription of Trump as an "asset," Golden State Warrior and Under Armour endorsee Steph Curry said "I agree with that description... if you remove the ‘et’.”
Curry said last week that he'll stand by the brand, for now, after spending a day on the phone "with countless people at Under Armour, countless people in Kevin Plank’s camp, my team, trying to understand what was going on and where everybody stood on the issue." Curry sounded cautiously optimistic about the relationship, saying, "It’s a fine line but it’s about how we’re operating," but "If I can say the leadership is not in line with my core values, then there is no amount of money, there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off if it wasn’t in line with who I am."
Endorsee and dancer Misty Copeland also responded to Plank's remarks, saying "Those of you who have supported and followed my career know that the one topic 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."
NBC reports thaat Copeland has "spoken privately with Plank on his statements but is still requesting for the CEO and Under Armour to 'take public action to clearly communicate and reflect our common values' so as to continue with their ties to one another."
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who is typically apolitical to nearly a fault, said via Instagram that Plank's "words were divisive and lacking in perspective."
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
It appears that that high-profile criticism took its toll on Plank, who purchased a full-page advertisement in The Baltimore Sun that read in part that “In a business television interview last week, I answered a question with a choice of words that did not accurately reflect my intent."
Under Armour, Plank says, believes “immigration is a source of strength, diversity and innovation for global companies based in America...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 negatively impact our team, their families or our community,”
Here's the full ad, which, you might note, does not mention the President by name. An effort to have his cake and eat it too? Guess we'll have to keep our eyes on Trump's twitter feed, so we can see of UA will get the Nordstrom treatment or will manage to squeak past the presidential radar.
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank prints full-page ad in today's Baltimore Sun to clarify POTUS comments; doesn't mention Trump by name pic.twitter.com/TWk40PydRg— Sara Germano (@germanotes) February 15, 2017