UPDATE: The NBA has banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will also ask the board of governors to force the sale of the team to a new owner. The decision followed news of sponsors suspending their association with the team. This latest news should see those sponsors return.
- On Monday, CarMax announced it was dropping its sponsorship of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers in response to racist remarks owner Donald Sterling allegedly made on a recording that surfaced this weekend.
- Other brands have quickly followed suit, with Virgin America, Kia, and AQUAHydrate all making announcements by Monday afternoon that they were stopping sponsorship as well.
- By late in the afternoon, the wave of sponsors announcing either a "pause" or a halt to their sponsorship had swelled to include StateFarm, Red Bull, Mercedes-Benz, Sprint, Corona, Lumber Liquidators, Yokohama Tire Corporation, and Samsung.
The swift departure of brands from the team underscores the importance an organization's leaders have in its image. Obviously, the Clippers themselves had no control over Sterling's remarks, but the team's public image is horribly tainted now. With the spread of information today — especially digitally — any type of unsavory behavior can tarnish a brand's image quickly, as RadiumOne just experienced with the domestic violence charges against its CEO. The agency fired the CEO, but will have to spend time rebuilding its image. The Clippers will have to do the same.