If we learned anything from Deengate last year, it’s that if people don’t like what you’re allegedly saying, big companies will no doubt cut ties and run in order to avoid as much of the fallout as possible. Joining Paula Deen and others before her in the rejected corporate sponsorships arena is the L.A. Clippers, whose owner Don Sterling has been accused of making racist comments.
So far CarMax, Virgin America and Kia Motors have confirmed they’ll be terminating sponsorship deals with the Clippers after Sterling allegedly was heard on tape telling a female friend not to bring black people to Clippers games.
CarMax said in a statement to the Huffington Post:
“CarMax finds the statements attributed to the Clippers’ owner completely unacceptable. These views directly conflict with CarMax’s culture of respect for all individuals. While we have been a proud Clippers sponsor for 9 years and support the team, fans and community, these statements necessitate that CarMax end its sponsorship.”
According to CNBC, Virgin America has also ended its sponsorship deal with the team:
A spokesman confirmed, saying: “While we continue to support the fans and the players, Virgin America has made the decision to end its sponsorship of the L.A. Clippers.”
Kia Motors is yanking the plug after working with forward Blake Griffin on ads, according to a statement given to USA Today:
“The comments allegedly made by Clippers owner Donald Sterling are offensive and reprehensible, and they are inconsistent with our views and values. We are suspending our advertising and sponsorship activities with the Clippers. Meanwhile, as fans of the game of basketball, our support of the players and the sport is unwavering.”
Meanwhile, State Farm is playing a bit coy, saying it’s putting things on “pause while those involved sort out the facts”:
“State Farm strongly supports and respects diversity and inclusion in its workforce and customers. The remarks attributed to the Clippers’ owner are offensive. We are monitoring the situation and we’ll continually asses our options.”
It sounds likely that State Farm will eventually jump ship as well, as the CEO of a marketing firm called Translation, which represents the insurance company and other brands, says it’s going to happen eventually:
“What I’m going to do and what I think is important from my side is I’m telling the brands immediately ‘let’s pull sponsorship’ starting with State Farm,” Steve Stoute told ESPN Radio. “When you have things like this taking place, somebody has to stand up.”