Ron Artest, challenger brand

Ron Artest wasn’t the only bad boy involved in the Pistons-Pacers fracas. But he’s the only one signed to a three-year endorsement deal with LA Gear, which until Friday was all amped up about launching his “Tru Warier” line of shoes and athletic apparel early next year.

Poor davidandgoliath, the agency that won LA Gear’s hip $2-3 million account in September. Asked what his client might do, David Angelo coolly tells AdFreak, “We’ll just have to step back and assess.”

The indie shop’s first print ads with Artest are already running in Slam and Dime. In a statement yesterday, a sheepish LA Gear noted that its “use of [Artest] in our marketing plans was based on the best aspects of Ron’s performance on the basketball court” and that the print ads “sought to capture in a breakthrough way Ron’s ability to dominate the game.” The company added that it will review its plans “concerning [Artest’s] role with our company and our brand.”

Hmm. Good thing davidandgoliath also handles LA Gear’s line of women’s fashion sneakers, expected to launch in the spring.

Upon winning the account, Angelo said, “We understand the role of challenger brands.” Could he have been referring to Artest as well?

–Posted by Randi Schmelzer