In a colossal miscalculation that has the potential to negatively impact their brand for years to come, New Balance has come out in public support of Donald Trump over Barack Obama as president, stating that Trump’s opposition to lowering U.S. import tariffs favors New Balance because it does 70 percent of its manufacturing within the United States. Obama during his term has been a vocal supporter of TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership), an agreement among 12 countries that lowers import taxes.
Just two days after the election with many Hillary Clinton supporters still stung by her lost, New Balance’s vice president of public affairs, Matt LeBretton told Wall Street Journal reporter Sara Germano, “The Obama admin turned a deaf ear to us & frankly with Pres-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
A significant portion of New Balance’s customer base are young sneaker aficionados based in city centers, a population that polling showed favored Hillary Clinton as president. They are also a customer base that dominates social media and leads trends.
As of now, New Balance is trending on Twitter and multiple individuals have posting images of themselves burning or throwing out their New Balance sneakers.
— Jon Targaryen (@tbrooks__) November 10, 2016
In response to the furor, LeBretton told BuzzFeed News that while the quote was correct, he was taken out of context. “[Sara Germano’s] statement is correct in the context of trade, not talking about large geo-political anything, but in the context of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.It’s inaccurate. Everything I’ve said is in the context of trade.”
New Balance followed with its own statement on social media, emphasizing that it welcomes “all walks of life,” but didn’t directly reference or make any statement about its support for Trump. Wrote New Balance, “We believe in community. We believe in humanity. From the people who make our shoes to the people who wear them, we believe in acting with the utmost integrity and we welcome all walks of life. Since 1906, we have carved our own path in being passionately committed to making things at our five factories in New England, even when nobody else did. New Balance and our thousands of employees around the world constantly strive to better our local communities. We always have and we always will.”