Two Under Armour marketing execs are forced out amid spending irregularities
Two senior-level marketing executives have left Under Armour, a company spokeswoman confirmed to Ad Age. Ryan Kuehl, senior VP of sports marketing, and his direct report, Walker Jones, senior director of global sports marketing and business development, are no longer with the Baltimore-based sportswear brand. Their exits were cited in a Wall Street Journal article Monday afternoon alleging inappropriate spending in the sports marketing department.
The spokeswoman declined to comment on the departures. According to his LinkedIn page, Kuehl, a former professional football player with the New York Giants, had been with Under Armour nine years. Jones worked at Under Armour from 2008 to 2014 and rejoined the company in 2016, according to a Sports Business Journal report.
The new departures come a month after a Wall Street Journal report noting that Under Armour no longer allows employees to expense strip-club visits on their corporate cards. The changes come at a time of particular sensitivity toward such behavior in what is now known as the Me Too era. Under Armour's rival, Nike, is also facing criticism, including a lawsuit, of some of its internal policies that are seen as sexist and discriminatory by female employees.
In addition, Under Armour is struggling to maintain market share amid rising competition. Its sales have faltered in recent years as fickle consumers flock to other brands. In September, the brand said it is laying off 400 employees as part of a turnaround effort. The downsizing follows an earlier round of cuts last year. For the third quarter, Under Armour reported a 2 percent rise in revenue to $1.4 billion, though North America revenue declined 2 percent to $1.1 billion.
Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail, noted in a recent research report that the brand lacks focus, which is problematic in the consistently crowded sportswear space.
"Although the assortment has some good individual pieces, the entire range is a hodgepodge with no clear focus or specialism," wrote Saunders, adding that rather than choice, such variety only creates bewilderment. "This hampers Under Armour's ability to tell compelling brand stories which should allow it to stand out in a crowded marketplace."