Advertisers are backing away from the Los Angeles Clippers after racist comments attributed to the NBA team's owner.
Used car dealership chain CarMax, airline Virgin America, and the Chumash Casino Resort said Monday that they are ending their sponsorships of the Clippers in the wake of comments allegedly made by the team's owner, Donald Sterling.
Two other sponsors, Kia Motors America and Red Bull, said they are suspending their advertising and sponsorship activities with the team. Another sponsor, insurerState Farm, said it "will be taking a pause in our relationship with the organization."
The incident highlights the risks that companies face when they make sponsorship deals. The deals can bring goodwill when things are going well, but brands face a tough spot when they link themselves with teams or athletes that become mired in controversy. Advertising experts say that once the bad news it out there, a negative association could have already been made in the eyes of consumers.
Allen Adamson, managing director of research firm Landor Associates, said there's little benefit for brands to stick with their sponsorship deals in this instance.
"There's some benefit in moving quickly," he said. "You can always renew your sponsorship later, but the longer you're linking your brand to a brand in trouble, the higher the risk."
Read more at the Associated Press