The LA Clippers are in the news today and not just for their playoff performance. A series of brands are dropping sponsorship deals with the team. It is an all-star list of companies including State Farm, CarMax, Kia and Virgin America.
The commotion began when TMZ released a taped phone call between Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his girlfriend V. Stiviano. In the conversation Sterling made a series of offensive and racist comments.
Brands are now moving as quickly as possible to distance themselves from Sterling and the Clippers. CarMax, for example, released a statement saying it was ending its team sponsorship, explaining, “These views directly conflict with CarMax’s culture of respect for all individuals.”
This is the correct move. A brand that stands by the Clippers runs the risk of being associated with Sterling and his views. A brand that drops its sponsorships sends a very different message: that it believes in acceptance and does not tolerate racism. It is an easy decision.
Sterling’s comments were so extreme that everyone will now abandon the Clippers. It is very clear that Donald Sterling will have to apologize and give up control of the team, at least for a while. His brand is simply too toxic.