Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Three weeks into the Trump administration, brands are feeling the need to take sides on the President’s every statement and policy, especially those that may affect their bottom lines. And increasingly, those views are at odds with the views of companies’ celebrity spokespeople.
Today, Misty Copeland posted a note on Instagram stating she opposed the pro-Trump remarks of Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, the company she not only represents in advertisements but also just launched an activewear collection with.
As Plank told CNBC, “To have such a pro-business President is something that is a real asset for the country.”
“I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank's recent comments in support of Trump as recently reported,” wrote Copeland, a principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre.
I have always appreciated the great support and platform that Under Armour has given me to represent my community, gender, and career on the world stage. However, I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank's recent comments in support of Trump as recently reported. 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. I have spoken at length with Kevin privately about the matter, but as someone who takes my responsibility as a role model very seriously, it is important to me that he, 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.
Copeland is not the first Under Armour spokesmodel to publicly disagree with the CEO. When asked about Plank calling Trump an “asset,” Golden State Warrior point guard Stephen Curry told The Mercury News “I agree with that description, if you remove the 'et' from asset.”
Later on Thursday, Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. The Rock, also a contracted Under Armour “brand partner,” posted a note to his Facebook page disagreeing with Plank.
“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,” he wrote. “His words were divisive and lacking in perspective. Inadvertently creating a situation where the personal political opinions of Under Armour’s partners and its employees were overshadowed by the comments of its CEO.”
Under Armor and Trump are finding themselves particularly aligned, as the US-based athletic company has prioritized manufacturing in the US, a rarity for most other American apparel and footwear companies. Under Armour recently invested in a 35,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Baltimore called the UA Lighthouse, where it developed its new “made in America” collection, the Arris Project.
Kevin Plank’s comments praising Trump’s stance on American manufacturing were echoed by Kate Williams, VP of women’s design at Under Armour. As she told Racked this week, “I don’t think I would get political over it, but I would say Under Armour as a brand is excited about its own opportunity to make products within its own, I don’t want to say four walls, but within its brand house, within our facilities.”
Another Under Armour spokesman, Atlanta Hawks guard Kent Bazemore, looks to be siding with the executives, not his fellow athletes. Bazemore told Sporting News:
“Have a businessman in office, because that's the way the world's trending... We've been living some stuff that's been written for 200-300 years. The world has changed. The world has gotten a little smarter. It's good that we have somebody that's hip in that aspect to try to change it.”
Bazemore is likely in the minority as far as celebrity spokespeople go. From Hollywood (see: Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes) to the NFL (at least three members of the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots have said they won’t attend the traditional White House team meet-and-greet), stars aren’t shying away from their opposition to the president and his stances.
We expect these won’t be the last spokesmodel-CEO disagreements in the months to come.
Update: February 9th, 2017, 6:17 p.m.
This story has been updated with an additional comment from The Rock.