In the aftermath of South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius' murder charge, corporate sponsors are springing into action, dropping endorsements following the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steemkamp on Valentine’s Day.
Nike and Oakley, companies that spend millions of dollars endorsing various athletes every year, are among the firms distancing themselves from Pistorius in order to limit brand damage.
“A brand is not a logo or a statement. It’s a promise,” Mark Stevens, MSCO CEO said. “It’s very important companies act quickly, not because of public pressure, but because of the damage it can do to a company’s most valuable asset: Its brand.”
Nike spokesman KeJuan Wilkins issued the following statement to FOX Business.
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“The incident is now a police matter and we will continue to monitor the situation closely. Nike has no plans for Oscar Pistorius in upcoming campaigns.”
An advertisement by Nike with the tag line “I am the bullet in the chamber” was pulled from Pistorius’ website shortly after the shooting. Other endorsers and sponsors who invested in the “Blade Runner” are severing ties with the athlete as well.
Thierry Mugler, who used Pistorius as the face of its fragrance A*Men, confirmed it will be dropping the athlete from its advertisements.
“Out of respect and sympathy to the families involved in this tragic case, Thierry Mugler Parfums has decided to remove all campaigns featuring Oscar Pistorius," the company said in a statement to FOX Business.
A South African TV channel M-Net was among the first to act. It halted ads featuring the athlete to promote the Academy Awards. The company tweeted, “Out of respect & sympathy to the bereaved, M-Net will be pulling its entire Oscar campaign featuring Oscar Pistorius with immediate effect.”
Pistorius’ agent Peet Van Zyl released a statement on the athlete’s website canceling all future races.
Pistorius was the first double amputee to run in the Olympics by competing in the 400-meter semi-finals in London last year.