Brands Call Foul on Donald Sterling
After a tape surfaced with a secret recording of (perhaps soon-to-be-former) LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist remarks—among them an expressed desire for his girlfriend to remove all pictures of black people from her Instagram—it didn't take long for sponsors to start distancing themselves from the disgraced business magnate.
To name just a few, CarMax, Kia Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Red Bull, and Virgin America have all pulled their support for the team—just as the NBA pulled any and all support for Sterling himself. The NBA commissioner banned the 80-year-old Sterling for life and levied a $2.5 million fine for his offensive comments, although it's fairly safe to say that won't have much impact on his actual finances. According to Forbes, Sterling's net worth is estimated at about $1.9 billion.
Of course, it's a PR and marketing disaster for the Clippers—and an almost tailor-made case study on how fast a crisis can spread.
The life-ban of Donald Sterling was said to be have sped up due to social media. Welcome to the world where everyone has a voice.— The Marketing Grid (@marketing_grid) April 30, 2014
Donald Sterling sure can take attention off a pivotal game 4! Game 5 might be played with no fans present due to his new marketing approach.— Ernie Norquist (@ENorquist) April 26, 2014
So does this mean that Donald Sterling is no longer in their Framily? "@SportsCenter Sprint suspends marketing activities w/ Clippers"— A Hot Dog Is A Sanin (@Jay_Sanin) April 28, 2014
Donald Sterling would not be a fan of my marketing class today. #equality— Billy Malewich (@The_Manwich) April 30, 2014