Steve Hamilton and Andrew Touhy
After the tempestuous election, New Balance’s vice president of public affairs, Matthew LeBretton, offered an endorsement to Donald Trump 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.” Though the answer was in response to a question about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, an initiative led by President Barack Obama and opposed by Trump, New Balance was soon met with protests and an endorsement from a neo-Nazi blogger calling New Balance the “official shoes of white people.”
Though not the intent of their original endorsement, their message was muddled and attacked. The company met the turmoil head-on and issued a statement that vehemently separated the brand and its values from the alt-right website, and at the same time reinforced their staunch loyalty to American made products. Lesson learned.