Crisis Communication- Under Armour Olympics Scare

Crisis Communication- Under Armour Olympics Scare 150 150 Affordable Capstone Projects Written from Scratch


I had to choose a company that has faced a crisis communication situation so I chose Under Armour was under fire for their speed skating uniforms in the Winter Olympics, Sochi 2014. The guidelines are attached and my draft to help start the paper. Thank you!!

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In 1996 after graduating from the University of Maryland, Kevin Plank was able to launch his own company the Under Armour. The company based in Baltimore, Maryland is focusing on the making of performance apparel and Plank is the current chief executive officer (Kraft, & Lee, 2009). The company has expanded over the past twenty years and according to McCarthy (2014), the company is now worth $2 billion and it has expanded from apparel making into footwear manufacture, fitness applications, and sports equipment for children, women, and men. Wilkinson (2013) states that the company is a significant brand in both the United States and outside the country as a leading brand in outfit making for institutions and teams worldwide and in the sportswear market. In 2011, the company was able to enter into a contract with the United States Speedskating Association where they agreed to create new suits for the U.S. team (Whiteside, 2014). The suits were to be used in the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014. The company was able to manufacture suits that it regarded as the fastest suits in the history of speedskating and that were expected to raise the team’s performance at the event. The suits were referred to as Mach 39 (Madkour, 2014). However, after six days into the Sochi Olympics, the American team was unable to deliver any medal in all the events that they took part in. This paper focuses on the failure of the highly anticipated performance of the American team and a crisis situation that Under Armour experienced in the eyes of the Americans and the world.

The Case

The U.S. Speedskating team in the 2010 Olympics had performed well with four medals and therefore they were heavily favored to win big at the 2014 Winter Olympics (Pilon, 2014). However, in Sochi, athletes such as the four-time speedskating medalist Shani Davis finished 8th in the 1,000-meter race. Another athlete, the number one ranked female U.S. speedskater finished 7th in her race (Pilon, 2014). The 7th position that the female athlete had achieved was the best in over six long-track speedskating events for the Americans. These disastrous results were highly criticized and some critics began to blame the results on the new high-tech suits that the Under Armour had created for the team. Some blamed vents that were placed at the back of the suits to be slowing down the skaters. The company was in a crisis situation as what they had anticipated being their platform into the international market was now in a negative public light with the public attacking the company’s identity and brand that they had invested in the apparel. The company also experienced a drop in their publicly traded stock that affected their revenues.

The Wall Street Journal published a front-page article regarding a suspect that was the reason for the unexpected results. The journal published that the Mach 39 suits had a design flaw that resulted in the skaters slowing down and hence their poor performance. The article ignited an agenda among the fans, athletes, and other media platforms. The company was also in a crisis especially in the public relations department which was marketing the company as one that ensures quality product performance and innovation to guarantee better athletes. To face this crisis, the company led by the top management had to implement a swift response to address the issues at hand.