Under Armour Drops Key Influencer after Controversial Video
Last week marked the end of an endorsement deal between major sportswear brand, Under Armour and popular hunter and fitness star, Sarah Bowmar.
The decision comes after a 13-minute video was posted to Sarah and her husband Josh Bowmar’s Youtube channel back in June. The video, which the couple has since deleted, depicts Josh brutally killing a black bear with a homemade, 7-foot spear in Calgary, Alberta. The footage left many viewers appalled (a go-pro was fastened to the spear, adding an especially graphic POV angle) and animal activists say it could have taken up to 20 hours for the animal to die (a claim which Sarah refutes). Canadian authorities have said they will be banning all spear hunting in the future while potentially investigating Josh for any criminal charges.
The global outcry – not only at the arguably inhumane luring and killing of the bear but Bowmar’s apparent exultation after his kill – eventually culminated with a petition for Under Armour to sever all ties with the couple. The petition gained over 4000 signatures.
“Under Armour is ending its relationship with Sarah Bowmar, the wife of Josh Bowmar,” a spokesman told the Mirror. “The method used to harvest this animal was reckless and we do not condone it. Under Armour is dedicated to the hunting community and supports hunting that is conducted in compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws and hunting practices that ensure a responsible and safe harvest of the animal.”
So far, the pronouncement has caused nearly as much of an uproar as the Bowmar’s actions did. Sarah took to Twitter to express her sorrow and disbelief that Under Armour would end their working relationship, pointing out that she was not even the one seen hunting in the video. Meanwhile, her followers (and now former Under Armour shoppers) showed disdain towards Under Armour for their decision:
We talk a lot about the upside of collaborating with industry influencers as a brand, but aside from relatively minor issues (such as different working or communication styles, or clashing personalities), if all goes wrong, it can definitely have its downsides.
It can be tricky balancing what an influencer can do for your business with what you think is right or even what the rest of your consumers feel is right. Here’s to hoping both parties involved have learned from the situation and can move on.
Click below for a handy guide to working with industry influencers!