The Under Armour logo is there for now. But for how long?
CREDIT: Getty Images
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Politics and business have become more uncomfortable bedfellows than most married couples.
With Donald Trump’s powerful and controversial presence in the White House, what is a business leader supposed to do?
The one thing it’s hard to do is ignore it.
This week, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank offered considerable support to the president.
Appearing on CNBC, he said: “To have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country.”
How, though, might this sit with some of Under Armour’s biggest endorsers? The Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, for example.
Unlike some sports stars, NBA players tend to speak their minds on social issues.
So, as the San Jose Mercury News reports, when Curry was asked whether Trump is an asset to the country, he replied: “I agree with that description, if you remove the ‘et.'”
Remove the et from asset, you understand.
You don’t get asinine quotes from Curry.
He went on to reveal that he’d talked to Plank and others at Under Armour. When you’re one of the most admired stars in sports you can do that any time you need.
Curry sounded reassured, but only to a point. He said he believed it was still “the Under Armour I know.”
Therefore, he added of Plank: “That’s the brand I know he’s built and one that, as of Wednesday afternoon, is something that I’m standing on.”
Thursday is another day.
Curry said Plank had insisted that he was only praising Trump from a business perspective. Yes, rolling back those regulations can make a CEO swoon.
Indeed, Under Armour released a statement to that effect.
Curry, though, surely put Plank on notice that if Trump begins to damage the social fabric as Curry sees it, he will take off his Under Armor shoes and walk.
He said he wants the brand to maintain certain beliefs.
“Are we promoting change? Are we doing things that are going to look out for everybody? And not being so self-serving that it’s only about making money, selling shoes, doing this and that. That’s not the priority. It’s about changing lives. I think we can continue to do that,” he explained.
Curry has used the brand controversially himself by putting his favorite religious verse on the tongue of his first shoe.
The Warriors star has made an enormous contribution — through his skill and and an open, engaging personality that projects immense decency — to the growth of the Under Armour brand.
What would make him leave it?
“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,” he said, sounding for all the world like many a millennial employee, just an unusually powerful one.
Curry said he stands for a passion for people, for love, respect and positivity.
You must decide whether the president stands for something similar.
However, if Plank — who has agreed to sit on the president’s manufacturing council — appears to support something with which Curry doesn’t agree, the star has made it clear he’ll disappear.
Michael Jordan used to say that he wouldn’t take political stances because Republicans buy shoes too.
Curry, too, says he doesn’t want to talk politics if he can help it.
But the current political climate is forcing many more people into perhaps uncomfortable involvement in politics.
Under Armour’s shares dived just a few days ago.
It might, indeed, be wonderful for the brand to have a pro-business president.
It might, however, be not so wonderful to have your biggest star ditch your brand because it — or even its management — starts to embrace ideals which the star deems unacceptable.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.