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What's a Sponsor to Do?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Athletes and celebrities can certainly give sponsors and advertisers headaches. As brand ambassadors, these athletes and celebrities agree that they will uphold the image that the sponsor or brand wants to project. 

When it comes to overcoming and beating the odds, who wouldn't want the Blade Runner, Oscar Pistorius?

But even the carbon fiber Phenom is giving his sponsors heartache. Not to mention the whole country of South Africa.

Pistorius, the man who beat all the odds and became the first paralympic runner to compete in the Olympic Games, is facing charges from a horrible crime. He is a suspect in the murder of his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. 

His biggest sponsors, BT and Nike, have not said too much given the nature of the event. Both brands said that they will monitor the situation.

This is a tough spot for brands to be in. First, no one likes their brand to be associated with a murderer (I guess except for Ray Lewis), but then again, the brands don't want to act as judge and jury and leave their athletes behind until all is said and done.

Let's say that Pistorius turns out to be innocent; will the brands continue to use Pistorius as much as they have? Perhaps, but it is safe to say they will cool the activities for the meantime, and let some time go by. And if he's guilty, the brands surely will drop everything associated with him.

Either way, the partnership will never be as it once was. If that is the case, then, why continue with the partnership at all? These are the questions the brand teams will be going over as they continue to monitor the situation.

If you were on the team, and had to make a case, how would you approach it?


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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