Updated at 12:15 p.m. EDT: Under Armour apologized for the T-shirt design in a series of three tweets posted late Saturday morning.
If there’s one thing a growing American sports-apparel brand wants to avoid, it’s being labeled disrespectful to the military. In fact, that’s pretty much what every growing American brand likely wants to avoid and, actually, almost all Americans in general in our post-9/11 world.
Unfortunately for Under Armour, many are labeling the Baltimore-based brand just that after it released what its calling the “Band of Ballers” T-shirt.
The pun isn’t what’s upsetting people, but the design that appears to be based on the iconic image of a group of servicemen raising the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima during World War II. An Associated Press photograph of the event was the inspiration for the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va.
On Friday, Under Armour’s Facebook page became overwhelmed with complaints.
In the comments of a post about Premier League soccer, the topic of discussion became the shirt.
“Your marketing and design team made a mistake and used very poor judgement,” Facebook user Jamie Proffitt wrote. “Man-up and remove the ‘Band of Ballers’ scene from your merchandise.”
Proffitt’s comment received 59 likes within an hour.
The comments in response to a post about Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry also went off topic.
“This is a memorial. With the names of the fallen. Not some group of ‘ballers’ putting up a basketball hoop,” Facebook user Brett Duffus wrote. “I will never even think of buying an under armor product again… #boycottunderarmor.”
His comment, which was posted early Friday morning had more than 245 likes by mid-morning.
The company is also facing a barrage of complaints on Twitter, as well.
There are hundreds of other examples, and Under Armour may have gotten the hint.
While the company did not remove the product from its Web site entirely, by mid-morning on Friday the image of the T-shirt that would usually accompany its description in UA’s online store had been removed. The product was also labeled “sold out.”
The Washington Post has reached out to Under Armour for comment, but at press time the company had yet to respond.