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L.A. Clipper's Donald Sterling Controversy: Dealers End Sponsorships

By DrivingSales News on Apr 28, 2014


The loss of sponsors for the Los Angeles Clippers franchise continues to grow, with prestigious car dealers joining the ranks. Ever since allegations surfaced that Donald Sterling, the owner of the L.A. Clippers made racially inflammatory comments, a public relations firestorm has ensued.

Sterling allegedly spoke out to his girlfriend in terms of her association with African Americans. Since the recording of this conversation has come to light, protests and lost sponsors have been the result. The Clippers staged a silent protest before their playoff game Sunday evening, while teams such as the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets wore black socks as a sign of unity amidst the alleged scandal. This situation even caused President Obama to speak out on the topic. However, the President doesn’t support the team financially, where the Clippers publicly lost a lot of support Monday.

Among those sponsors lost were CarMax, which issued the following statement on their corporate website: “Car Max 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 it’s sponsorship.”

Kia Motors North America also dropped the Clippers. Scott McKee, a spokesman for Kia explained that, “ As fans of the game of basketball, our support of the players and the sport is unwavering. “ The comments that allegedly came from Sterling were found by Kia to be “Offensive and reprehensible,” thus the dropped sponsorship.

Finally, Mercedes-Benz, with it’s grouping of Southern California dealers is ending it’s sponsorship with the Clippers. A spokesman for Mercedes Benz reportedly had the following to say: “Mercedes-Benz is obviously concerned about the alleged comments attributed to the Clippers’ owner.  We find these comments to be deplorable and completely against the values we promote as an organization. Our dealer group shares our concern and has moved to cease its sponsorship of the Clippers effective immediately, despite their affinity for the Clippers and their fans.”


Some people might be all huffy about freedom of speech in cases like this however no law in the land can change the need for responsible speech. It's not something that can be controlled. People will react positively or negatively to things people say in public. And company's will do what they can to protect their image. These moves are of no surprise to me.

May 1, 2014

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