The U.S. Olympic team is not the only entity feeling the sting of the recent Ryan Lochte controversy.
Following news that the Olympic swimmer fabricated a story of getting robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro, images of the athlete have quietly disappeared from the Ralph Lauren Olympic apparel page on its site and allegedly from some Macy’s brick-and-mortar stores.
A comment on a Jezebel article Friday from a Macy’s employee in the visual department claimed his team received an “emergency email” to remove “Lochte branded Polo collateral for the Olympics capsule.” Likewise, a tweet from another Macy’s visual merchandiser stated she received a similar email requesting removal of all Lochte related materials.
Jim Sluzewski, Macy’s svp of corporate communications and external affairs, said that any instruction to remove the marketing material was in order to fully transition away from Olympic apparel upon the close of the games.
“As scheduled, we are beginning to transition all Olympic content as the games end [on Sunday], and we are moving into our fall fashion message,” Sluzewski said.
Ralph Lauren has not responded to request for comment, though the company shared a statement Thursday saying the company was in the process of evaluating the situation. Despite being pulled from Ralph Lauren’s “Meet the Athletes” page — where athletes including swimmer Haley Anderson, wrestler Jordan Burroughs and volleyball player April Ross still remain, among others — Lochte is still featured on the brand’s Twitter banner.
“We are working closely with the [U.S. Olympic Committee] on the developments in Rio and are reviewing the situation,” a spokesperson told WWD.
Lochte issued a formal apology for his actions via Instagram on Friday, circulating the image on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. The incident in question involved Lochte and fellow teammates Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen who were discovered to have vandalized a gas station bathroom following a night of heavy drinking. The group later said they were victims of an armed robbery.
While Lochte’s sponsorship appears to still be intact for the time being, it’s not rare for athletes to lose major deals as the result of a public scandal. Recent examples include Ray Rice, who lost sponsorships with Nike and EA Sports his acts of domestic violence, and Tiger Woods, who was dropped from Gillette, Accenture and AT&T for his extramarital affairs.
Fans and viewers have taken to Twitter to speculate over the state of Lochte’s sponsorship deals, which also include Gatorade, Gillette, Speedo and Airweave.
Boycott Polo Ralph Lauren (@PoloRLAmerica) if they do not sever their association with Lyin Ryan Lochte
— Steve (@EnragedApostate) August 19, 2016
Just saw Ryan Lochte in a Ralph Lauren commercial. He’s probably going to get the 2016 Polo catalogue Dover Duck boot from that campaign.
— Mish (@Mish_the_Dish) August 19, 2016
Someone actually called polo today telling us we should no longer sponsor Ryan lochte…
— Lindsey Horning (@lindsey_hornin) August 21, 2016
Polo may want to rethink that ad with Ryan Lochte… Unless they’re marketing to douchebags.
— kate (@girlsavage) August 21, 2016