New Balance consumers from across the USA and beyond spent the days immediately following the US election setting the digital and social space on fire as their burned and binned their shoes/sneakers after the company’s VP offered social support for Trump’s win and praised the President-elect’s trade plans.
In a post-election interview with >the Wall Street Journal, New Balance vice president Matt LeBretton said that President Obama had ‘turned a deaf ear’ to US business and that ‘frankly, with President-elect Trump, we feel things are going to move in the right direction’.
He went on to criticise cross border free trade deals such as NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
His quotes were printed and then widely shared across the web and many customers took these comments as an endorsement of Trump.
This lead to an avalanche of Americans filming and photographing the burning and binning of their shoes and returning sneakers to shops across the country and then sharing the images across the social landscape.
— Matt (@2_up) November 10, 2016
— Brandon (@DadofGabriel) November 10, 2016
The Boston-based footwear brand often trumpets its domestic manufacturing policy and its five factories in the New England area (although it does also have plants overseas – such as in Cumbria, North West England).
New Balance responded to this wave of criticism by releasing a statement reminding consumers of the company’s foundation as a community-based business: ‘We believe in community. Our thousands of employees around the world constantly strive to better our local communities. New Balance publicly supported the trade positions of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump prior to election day that focused on American manufacturing job creation and we continue to support them today’.
— New Balance (@newbalance) November 10, 2016
— New Balance (@newbalance) November 15, 2016
But plenty of damage had already been done.