The racist rants by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling are starting to have big financial repercussions.
CarMax was one of the first to reveal today that it is no longer sponsoring the basketball franchise, which is currently participating in the National Basketball Association playoffs. By early afternoon, TMZ.com reported that Clippers advertisers Virgin America and Kia followed suit, while HuffPost said AQUAhydrate was doing the same. And State Farm said it is "pausing" its Clippers relationship.
Catherine Gryp, spokesperson for the Goochland County, Va.-based CarMax, sent the following statement to Adweek via email: "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 nine years and support the team, fans and community, these statements necessitate that CarMax end its sponsorship."
State Farm runs ads on the Clippers' properties while featuring the team's star guard, Chris Paul, in its TV spots. While the Paul relationship will very likely be unaffected by the fallout to Sterling's behavior, it does put the brand in an unusual spot.
"The remarks attributed to the Clippers' owner are offensive," said Holly Anderson, State Farm media rep, in an email. "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 we'll continually assess our options. We have a great relationship with Chris Paul and will continue supporting the Born to Assist advertising campaign involving Chris and now other NBA players."
The offensive Donald Sterling saga exploded over the weekend, especially after a Deadspin post offered audio of the NBA owner using language with obvious racist tones went viral.
The 80-year-old businessman has since been denounced by President Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Ervin "Magic" Johnson and numerous other public figures.