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Under Armour launches voter turnout initiative

When Under Armour CEO Patrik Frisk casts a vote in November’s presidential election, it will mark his first time voting in a general election in the United States since becoming a citizen last year.

Frisk’s experience as a new voter prompted him to put the company he has led since January behind a get-out-the-vote initiative that launched Thursday morning.

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Under Armour says “Run to Vote” aims to increase voter turnout by helping to remove barriers to participation in democracy.

“We make it really hard for people to vote in this country,” Frisk said in an email to The Sun. "Having voted in the primaries recently, I had to spend three nights just getting into material and finding everything online.

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“It was bewildering, to be honest," he said. “And if you don’t have availability to access information, it would be very hard.”

Frisk’s program announced Thursday morning and launching on the website vote.ua.com will encourage employees, customers and athletes to vote, and aims to link them with resources such as polling locations and mail-in ballot instructions. The Baltimore brand has enlisted its endorser athletes as well, who are expected to take to social media to urge followers to register to vote and turn out on Election Day.

Patrik Frisk is Under Armour's president and CEO.
Patrik Frisk is Under Armour's president and CEO. ((PRNewsfoto/Under Armour, Inc.))

A native of Sweden who had been living in Montreal, Frisk joined Under Armour in July 2017 as president and reported to Under Armour founder and former CEO Kevin Plank. Frisk brought with him deep experience in footwear as former CEO of the Aldo Group in Montreal since 2014.

Prior to that, he spent a decade at VF Corp. as coalition president of outdoor Americas with responsibility for The North Face, Timberland, JanSport, lucy and SmartWool brands. He was credited with revitalizing the Timberland brand after being appointed president when VF acquired it from its founder in 2011.

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In January, Frisk replaced Plank as Under Armour CEO. He was steering the company through a restructuring aimed at reversing slumping sales, steep losses and a decimated stock price.

But much of his focus this year has been on handling fallout from COVID-19 related shutdowns of factories and stores. During the quarter ended June 30, with company-owned outlets and other stores selling Under Armour products closed, the brand lost $183 million. Sales are expected to be down as much as 25% this year.

In June, Under Armour said it was discontinuing a $280 million contract to outfit student athletes at UCLA, saying it is paying for marketing benefits it had not received during the coronavirus shutdown. UCLA has since filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the brand, seeking $200 million in damages.

Earlier this month, the company said it expects to lay off about 600 global employees this year as part of the restructuring that will now be more costly due to coronavirus.

Plans for the voter drive include a #RunToVote Challenge to Map My Run app users to run 11.3 miles, including voter registration information on Under Armour retail receipts and becoming a sponsor of the Party At The Mailbox effort in partnership with Black Girls Vote and Baltimore Vote

Employees of Under Armour will be given three hours of paid time off to vote and additional paid time off to serve as election officials, and company leaders are being encouraged not to schedule any meetings or deadlines on Election Day and to allow their employees to use Under Armour volunteer hours to volunteer as a poll worker or election judge.

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