Advertisers backing off Clippers over Donald Sterling incident
ASSOCIATED PRESS, SUN-TIMES STAFF REPORTS April 28, 2014 1:04PM
In this photo taken on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, right, and V. Stiviano, left, watch the Clippers play the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles. The NBA is investigating a report of an audio recording in which a man purported to be Sterling makes racist remarks while speaking to Stiviano. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement Saturday, April 26, 2014, that the league is in the process of authenticating the validity of the recording posted on TMZ's website. Bass called the comments "disturbing and offensive." (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Updated: April 28, 2014 3:04PM
Advertisers are backing away from the Los Angeles Clippers after racist comments attributed to the NBA team’s owner.
Used car dealership chain CarMax and airline Virgin America 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.
A third sponsor, Kia Motors America, said it is suspending its advertising and sponsorship activities with the team. A fourth, insurer State Farm said it “will be taking a pause in our relationship with the organization.”
Sterling has come under fire for comments he is alleged to have made in a recorded conversation with a woman. Portions of that conversation were released over the weekend by TMZ and Deadspin, leading to a national outcry. The NBA is planning a news conference Tuesday on its investigation into Sterling.
“CarMax finds the statements attributed to the Clippers’ owner completely unacceptable,” Richmond, Va.-based CarMax Inc. said Monday in an emailed statement. “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.”
Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm also described the remarks as offensive and said it will monitor the situation as the facts are sorted out.
Holly Anderson, spokeswoman for State Farm said Monday the insurance company is “taking a pause” in its sponsorship of the Clippers but will continue to support a TV advertising campaign starring Clippers point guard Chris Paul.
Anderson read from a statement that “the remarks attributed to the Clippers’ owner are offensive. While those involved sort out the facts, we will be taking a pause in our relationship with the organization.
We are monitoring the situation and will continually assess our options.”
The statement also noted that State Farm has “a great relationship with Chris Paul and will continue supporting the “Born to Assist” advertising campaign involving Chris and, now, other NBA players.”
The campaign, which began in December 2012, features Paul as himself and a fictional, mustachioed insurance-selling twin, Cliff Paul. State Farm said that campaign is part of its overall sponsorship of the NBA.
Kia also said that suspending its sponsorship and ads with the Clippers does not affect its deal with Clippers star Blake Griffin, who appears in commercials for the car company.