We’ve seen individuals back away from brands aligned with Trump, but stars like Stephen Curry backing away from a brand is unprecedented.
by A. Big Country
Stephen Curry is one of the NBA’s most recognizable and popular superstars. He is the reigning two-time MVP and serves as an ambassador for basketball across the globe.
Being associated with Curry as a brand is worth billions. Curry signed on with Under Armour, and their brand recognition and market penetration in athletic wear (particularly sneakers) skyrocketed. Financial experts estimate Curry is worth $14 billion to Under Armour.
Which brings us to Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank. Plank has joined President Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council, and recently offered his pro-Trump agenda on CNBC. Plank said that “to have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country.” Curry quipped that he agrees Trump is an asset — if you remove the “et.”
While Curry calling Trump an ass is funny, no one is laughing in the Under Armour board rooms, since Curry followed up his comments by telling the media that “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.” Under Armour since released a statement, talking about how they ”engage in policy, not politics” and talking about the importance of American manufacturing.
Curry is under contract with Under Armour until 2024, but this is a big problem. We’ve seen individuals back away from brands which have aligned themselves with Trump — for example, over 200,000 people deleted the Uber app after their CEO Travis Kalanick joined Trump’s advisory council. This issue was serious enough for Kalanick to leave the council. But the stars backing away from a brand is really unprecedented.
And Curry isn’t the only one. Under Armour is also seeing ballerina Misty Copeland and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson speak out against Plank’s comments. While none of them have said they plan to leave the brand, this situation is tumultuous.
Brands have plenty of history distancing themselves with athletes who break the so-called “morality clause” and open the brand up to loss of revenue and clientele. Tiger Woods and Michael Vick are easy examples. But what about when the brand is the one making the mistakes that hurt the player’s marketability and ethics?
While it is unclear if the situation with Curry and Under Armour will go beyond the comments made thus far, this is worth monitoring and offering kudos to Curry for standing up for what he believes.