Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank addresses theompany's 2017 annual shareholders under the firm's hashtag, #WeWill, which updates their original message of "#IWill."
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank addresses theompany's 2017 annual shareholders under the firm's hashtag, #WeWill, which updates their original message of "#IWill." (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank has joined other city leaders in defending Baltimore, the sports brand’s hometown, after President Donald Trump took to Twitter over the weekend to criticize U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings and his district.

“On behalf of the thousands of UA Teammates who proudly call Baltimore HOME... Work to be done but we are of this city and for this city. #WeWill #StandforBaltimore #hometownproud #410 #teamua," Plank posted Sunday on his Instagram account.

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Plank’s post included a 2017 Under Armour video depicting city neighborhoods, street scenes and athletes released for the sports apparel and footwear maker’s “We Will” marketing campaign. Local photographer Devin Allen, former NBA star Muggsy Bogues and other Baltimoreans appear. The ad traces Under Armour’s roots and growth in a place of “strength,” “grit” and"determination."

“We grew up in this city. Made our name in this city. But there’s more we can do,” a voiceover says. "The world knows better than to count us out because no matter the challenge we both rise."

The post was followed by Plank’s letter to the editor of The Baltimore Sun, co-written with John Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels and signed by eight other CEOs and presidents of nonprofits and universities, stating that they and their institutions were proud to call Baltimore home.

City and state officials, residents and others have jumped to the defense of the city and Cummings after Trump attacked him as a “brutal bully" incapable of fixing problems in a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested” district.

“Rep. Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous,” Trump tweeted on Saturday morning at the start of a three-day Twitter barrage. “His district is considered the Worst in the USA.”

Cummings 7th District, which is 53% black, includes much of the city but also parts of Baltimore and Howard counties.

Under Armour’s ad, part of the brand’s two-year-old effort to more deeply engage with the city, ends with the tagline, “Do more for Baltimore. Do it together."

Plank and by extension Under Armour have been caught up in the past in controversy linked to Trump, who is not named in the CEO’s recent Instagram post.

In early 2017, Plank, then a member of a White House advisory committee, praised the president’s pro-business agenda, and his comments were met with calls for boycotts and opposition from brand endorsers, including NBA star Stephen Curry, ballerina Misty Copeland and actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Within days, Plank responded with an open letter to the city, which appeared as a full-page advertisement in The Baltimore Sun and stressed personal and brand values such as diversity, equal rights and opportunity.

By August 2017, Plank and several other CEOS resigned from Trump’s manufacturing jobs advisory council amid widespread criticism that the president did not quickly denounce racist groups that marched in a Charlottesville, Va., rally that turned violent.

Plank said at the time that Under Armour would keep its focus on sports, not politics. Trump responded to the business leaders’ resignations, tweeting, “For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!”

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