The Guardian reports on Oscar Pistorius’ fall from grace – and from sponsorship dollars – with details of endorsement deals that have similarly turned sour.
Unfortunate slogan? If Just do it seems gauche in the light of recent events, the slogan used in Pistorius’ Nike ad, “I am the bullet in the chamber” is ‘loaded’ with incriminating associations.
Thursday 14 February 2013 18.42 GMT
Oscar Pistorius latest in long line of Nike endorsements that turned sour
Sports brand has removed Oscar Pistorius advertisement with the strapline: ‘I am the bullet in the chamber’
The sports brand Nike has an unfortunate history of associating with athletes who attract adverse publicity, and has been criticised for its slow reaction to crises. However, its advertisement on Oscar Pistorius’ official website that read “I am the bullet in the chamber” was removed on Thursday afternoon following the South African’s arrest and subsequent charge for murder.
Despite initially indicating that it would stand by Armstrong, Nike dropped the disgraced cyclist after it emerged that the American had been running, in the words of US Anti-Doping Agency, “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”. Initially the company said: “Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position. Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a foundation that Lance created to serve cancer survivors.” The company later said that Armstrong had misled them, and dropped him in the face of “seemingly insurmountable evidence”.
The former world No1 ranked golfer’s career took a spectacular nosedive in November 2009 when revelations about his extra-marital affairs spread like wildfire, causing Woods to take a break from the sport and later apologise live on TV. A number of sponsors including Accenture, AT&T, Gatorade and General Motors cut their links with Woods, while Gillette suspended his advertisements. However, Nike, along with Electronic Arts, kept the faith and has recently released a new advert where he appears alongside the current No1, Rory McIlroy.
Nike did not immediately drop the former American sprinter when she became linked with the Balco drug scandal, but it did not renew her sponsorship contract in 2005. Jones later tested positive for the blood-boosting agent EPO and in 2007 admitted lying to federal agents about her use of performance-enhancing drugs, spending six months in prison the following year.
Gatlin won the 100m gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics but later tested positive for testosterone and was banned from athletics for four years. Nike suspended his contract and severed ties with him.
The American footballer served 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to bankrolling a dogfighting operation in 2007. Once the highest-paid player in the NFL, Nike dropped him the moment he was convicted, later re-signing the quarterback after he was released from prison.