NEW YORK — Advertisers are backing away from the Los Angeles Clippers
after racist comments attributed to the NBA team’s owner.
Used car dealership chain CarMax and airline Virgin America said Monday that
they are ending their sponsorships of the Clippers in the wake of comments
allegedly made by the team’s owner, Donald Sterling.
A third sponsor, Kia Motors America, said it is suspending its advertising and
sponsorship activities with the team. A fourth, insurer State Farm said it
“will be taking a pause in our relationship with the organization.”
Sterling has come under fire for comments he is alleged to have made in a
recorded conversation with a woman. Portions of that conversation were released
over the weekend by TMZ and Deadspin, leading to a national outcry. The NBA is
planning a news conference Tuesday on its investigation into Sterling.
“CarMax finds the statements attributed to the Clippers’ owner completely
unacceptable,” Richmond, Va.-based CarMax Inc. said Monday in an emailed
statement. “While we have been a proud Clippers sponsor for 9 years and support
the team, fans and community, these statements necessitate that CarMax end its
Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm also described the remarks as offensive and
said it will monitor the situation as the facts are sorted out. It will continue
to run its Born to Assist ad campaign, which began in December 2012 and features
Clippers point guard Chris Paul as himself and a fictional, mustachioed
insurance-selling twin, Cliff Paul. State Farm said that campaign is part of its
overall sponsorship of the NBA.
Kia also said that suspending its sponsorship and ads with the Clippers does
not affect its deal with Clippers star Blake Griffin, who appears in commercials
for the car company.