SBD/Issue 82/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Not Lovin' It: McDonald's Lets Deal With Kobe Expire

McDonald's three-year endorsement deal with Lakers G Kobe Bryant expired December 31 and will not be immediately renewed, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. McDonald's Dir of Sports Marketing John Lewicki said McDonald's will "maintain an open dialogue with him in the future." Rovell noted that McDonald's is the second company to let its relationship with Bryant expire since he was accused of sexual assault last summer. Ferrero USA, which signed Bryant through January '04 to endorse its hazelnut spread Nutella, announced in August that it would not renew Bryant's deal. Sports & Sponsorships President Scott Becher: "The last thing McDonald's needs is to have to wrestle with all the questions out there while maintaining their relationship with Kobe. If they had any interest in keeping the relationship alive, they wouldn't let him go like that." Rovell noted that McDonald's is an official sponsor of the NBA (ESPN.com, 1/16). 16W Marketing co-Founder Steve Rosner: "McDonald's basically had no choice. Being associated with Kobe at this time is not a benefit to the company" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 1/17).

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