The day before Adam Silver lowered the boom on LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling, companies left and right were dropping their sponsorship of the team. Now that Sterling has been banned for life, sponsors are starting to come back.
Samsung began running ads again during last night’s playoff game against the Golden State Warriors. (Side note: The Warriors had planned to boycott the Clippers game if the punishment handed down wasn’t deemed sufficient.)
Adidas also put its marketing plan back in place, just hours after suspending it. Their sponsorship deal with the Clippers includes signage, Jumbotron displays in the Staples Center, and other promos. Adidas had planned to replace these materials with the slogan, “We Are One.”
Other companies like State Farm and Kia have decided to hold off on jumping back into their marketing plans, says The Wall Street Journal.
State Farm and Kia might be wise to hold off on jumping back into a partnership with the Clippers. Though the most significant issue to do with Sterling has been dealt with, you still have the issue of ownership to deal with. Remember, Silver said he would be urging the Board of Governors to get the team sold. Reports say the team is worth $575 million (Sterling paid $12 million in 1981). Though Silver says he doesn’t think he’ll have a problem getting the required 3/4 votes (22 of 29 members).
A sports marketing consultant, Marc Ganis, tells CNN that the other sponsors probably won’t be able to cancel their contracts, but certainly they have room to re-negotiate them based on what has happened and what could happen.
The article also notes that the Clippers aren’t known for winning very much. So there’s the possibility that the team, freed from any behind-the-scenes tension that may have been going on with Sterling at the helm, could turn it’s fortunes around. That may be the point at which you want to bring back your marketing.
Just a couple of thoughts. What do you think? Did these companies come back too soon?