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SBD/October 17, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship
Nike Terminates Relationship With Armstrong; Lance Resigns From Livestrong Position
Published October 17, 2012
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RADIOSHACK ALSO CUTS TIES: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's O'Connell & Albergotti report RadioShack today announced it also has "ended its relationship" with Armstrong. A RadioShack spokesperson said, "I can say that RadioShack has no current obligations with Lance Armstrong." The company has been "closely aligned with Mr. Armstrong since it signed a sponsorship agreement with the cyclist" in July '09. RadioShack last week said that it was "monitoring the situation" after the release of USADA's report (WSJ.com, 10/17). AD AGE's Michael McCarthy noted A-B yesterday “issued another public statement of support for Armstrong,” with whom it signed a deal in ’09. A-B VP/Marketing Paul Chibe said, "Our current relationship with Lance remains unchanged" (ADAGE.com, 10/16). But CNBC's Joe Kernen said, "I would bet my life that you do not see another Michelob Ultra commercial with Lance Armstrong” (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 10/17). Trek Bicycle Corp., which "features Armstrong prominently" in its Wisconsin-based HQs, has declined to comment (JSONLINE.com, 10/17). ESPN.com's Darren Rovell notes other Armstrong sponsors, including Oakley, Honey Stinger and FRS, "have thus far continued to stand by his side." However, endorsement deals "typically have morals clauses that allow companies to sever their deals with cause" (ESPN.com, 10/17). Rovell said, "This is the end of Lance Armstrong as a spokesman. He has several other deals. I don't expect those to be active for a long time. I expect his lucrative speaking career to be over now and he's going to have to move on" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/17).
LEAVING LIVESTRONG POSITION: Armstrong said that he is "stepping down" as Livestrong Chair so the group can "focus on its mission instead of its founder's problems." The AP's Jim Vertuno reports Armstrong's duties "leading the board will be turned over" to Vice Chair Jeff Garvey, the organization's founding Chair in '97. Armstrong will remain "on its 15-member board." Livestrong VP/Communications & External Affairs Katherine McLane said that the decision "turns over the foundation's big-picture strategic planning to Garvey." Garvey will assume "some of the public appearances and meetings that Armstrong used to handle," though Armstrong is "expected to speak at Friday night's 15th anniversary gala for Livestrong in Austin" (AP, 10/17). Meanwhile, YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel writes Nike will continue to support Livestrong, but if the company is "really upset about Lance Armstrong, then let them take the money the company made off him over the years he was cheating -- tens and tens of millions -- and give it all to the fight against cancer." Wetzel: "Otherwise this is just public-relations spin, piling on a guy who the company had long propped up" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/17).
TWITTER REAX: NBC News' Andrea Mitchell wrote on her Twitter feed, "Nike fires #Lance Armstrong they never fired Tiger and rehired Michael Vick. Takes a lot to loose the swoosh." The L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke wrote, "It took Nike 8 months to take Joe Paterno's name off their child development center..that they quit on Lance shows how far he's fallen." Marathon runner Paula Radcliffe, a Nike endorser, wrote, "A lot of people were deceived. The Nike I know represents the spirit and ideals of true athletes and would never condone doping." ESPN.com's Bonnie Ford wrote, "Nike just did it."
BLACK-BOARD JUNGLE: Last night’s edition of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” featured a "Back in Black" segment with comedian Lewis Black harping on Armstrong. Black said, "What the hell is wrong with Lance Armstrong? Everybody who’s ever known him says he was doping, everybody who ever rode with him, everybody who ever slept with him, everybody who ever jabbed a needle in his taint, they all say he was doping. But not Lance!” Video clips were shown of Armstrong denying the allegations and saying that fighting them “sucks the life out of you.” Black said, “That sucks the life out of you? You win a 2,000-mile bike race seven years in a row and going to court once a month is too much work? But I suppose this does explain his new ‘Deny Strong’ bracelet. Look, I don’t care that Lance Armstrong was doping. I care that he won’t admit it" (“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central, 10/16).