In this tense political environment, a brand’s business could be affected considerably depending on which side of the aisle they align.
In the eleven days since Donald Trump became president of the United States, a lot has changed in America and with regard to the future of trade.
Some brands, like Nike, have spoken out against the president’s moves, while others, like Under Armour, seem to be helping the president’s causes.
In announcing his Manufacturing Jobs Initiative last week, Trump said he’s culling a group of the “world’s most successful and creative business leaders” to advise him on how best to promote job growth in America.
Of the 28 companies listed, many were tech firms, including Intel and Dell, but Boeing and Ford were also on the list.
Under Armour was the only solely apparel and footwear retailer in the group and the company’s CEO Kevin Plank will be among those advising Trump for the initiative. The announcement came just as Under Armour launched its first U.S.-made apparel produced at its UA Lighthouse design and manufacturing center in Baltimore, Maryland.
On the same day the manufacturing initiative was announced, Trump signed an executive order on immigration banning entry from seven Muslim-majority countries and sending the government, airports, activists and the world into a tizzy.
Since then, some companies have come out against the order but many have stayed mum.
Ford, which is expected to maintain a seat at the manufacturing initiative table, said in an email to employees Friday that it does not support the immigration policy or any other that goes against its company values.
Nike CEO Mark Parker also sent an email to staff criticizing the move and calling on employees to stand up against it.
“Nike believes in a world where everyone celebrates the power of diversity,” Parker wrote, according to Business Insider. “Regardless of whether or how you worship, where you come from or who you love, everyone’s individual experience is what makes us stronger as a whole.”
Apple, Google, Starbucks and Netflix have all spoken out against the new president’s new policy. Brands in the apparel industry, however, seem to be overwhelmingly vowing silence on the political goings on, perhaps for fear of potential backlash similar to what New Balance faced for saying before Trump took office that his plans for trade would make things “move in the right direction.”
Under Armour hasn’t yet commented on its advisory role or made any mentions of the immigration ban.
Aligning with Trump or showing support for his policies hasn’t proved positive for Uber. The company’s CEO Travis Kalanick is a member of Trump’s business council, and on Saturday when the New York Taxi Workers Alliance temporarily stopped pickups at JFK Airport in protest of the immigration ban, Uber kept driving, even stopping its surge pricing for the period.
There’s no telling yet what the fallout for Uber will be as a result of the move, but there’s a campaign across social media platforms to #DeleteUber and many have already done so, opting instead for Lyft, a similar car service. Lyft issued a statement to users addressing the immigration ban on Sunday saying, “We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community.” Lyft also announced that it would donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union to “defend our constitution.” Since then, Uber has tried to dial back its actions offering up a $3 million legal defense fund for the ban Kalanick is now calling “wrong and unjust.”
Today’s consumers are so connected that there’s no chance a brand could act and they won’t find out. And because consumer loyalty isn’t what it used to be and more shoppers are demanding the brands they buy from be socially and ethically responsible, those that disagree with a brand’s actions in response to the political environment, may choose to stop spending their dollars with them altogether.