Under Armour Inc. apologized for a T-shirt that depicted basketball players raising a hoop in the style of the Marine Corps War Memorial, saying they hadn’t intended to offend military veterans and service members.
The shirt, called “Band of Ballers,” resembled the iconic photograph of soldiers raising a U.S. flag on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima during World War II – an image that was used as the basis for the Marines’ memorial. After the product drew criticism online for being disrespectful to the military, Under Armour announced plans over the weekend to scrap it.
“We deeply regret and apologize that a T-shirt that was not reflective of our values in honoring and supporting our country’s heroes went on sale,” the Baltimore-based company said in a statement. “We have taken immediate action to remove it from retail and will take great measures to ensure this does not happen again.”
The “Band of Ballers” gaffe marks the latest example of consumer brands backpedaling after social-media outcry. Urban Outfitters Inc. apologized last year after selling a vintage Kent State sweatshirt with what appeared to be splattered blood, evoking memories on the school’s 1970 shooting. Bud Light also recently drew flak online for its “Up for Whatever” campaign, which critics said promoted rape culture.
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Under Armour has fostered close ties with military groups, making the shirt more of a faux pas. The company has a partnership with the Wounded Warrior project, which helps veterans recover from injuries.
“Supporting those who serve our country has been part of our brand’s DNA since the very beginning,” the company said.