In comments published on Twitter by Wall Street Journal reporter Sara Garmano, New Balance Vice President of Public Affairs Matt LeBretton was quoted as saying, “The Obama [administration] turned a deaf ear to us and frankly [with] President-Elect Trump we feel things are going to move in the right direction.”
New Balance: “The Obama admin turned a deaf ear to us & frankly w/ Pres-Elect Trump we feel things are going to move in the right direction”
— Sara Germano (@germanotes) November 9, 2016
When asked to clarify his comments, LeBretton said that his comment was only in regards to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which New Balance has long opposed over concerns that the deal would hurt jobs at the company’s New England factories, even though most New Balance shoes are produced overseas.
New Balance soon released a statement further clarifying their position on Trump and TPP, saying in part, “As the only major company that still makes athletic shoes in the United States, New Balance has a unique perspective on trade and trade policy in that we want to make more shoes in the United States, not less.”
“New Balance publicly supported the trade positions of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump prior to election day that focused on American manufacturing job creation and we continue to support them today,” the company added.
But due to initial press reporting that misrepresented New Balance’s positions, LeBretton’s comments were enough to ignite fierce backlash on social media, including calls to boycott the company.
“@NewBalanceUSA is publicly supporting @realDonaldTrump. No more #NewBalance shoes for me. Garbage,” said one Twitter user.
— Mario Guzman (@MarioGuzman) November 10, 2016
Several people tweeted images and videos of themselves throwing their New Balances in the garbage, with some even going as far as lighting their shoes on fire.
— #calexit (@milftears) November 10, 2016
— MA$E (@_deehKING) November 10, 2016
— kiemzi (@kiemzi) November 10, 2016
— Jean Ralphio (@MMArtinitus) November 10, 2016
New Balance posted another statement to Twitter Thursday afternoon that appeared to be in response to the controversy, saying the company “welcome[s] all walks of life.”
— NewBalanceUSA (@NewBalanceUSA) November 10, 2016