SBD/May 6, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

NBA, Adidas Selling "We Are One" T-Shirts; McDonald's Returns For Clips' TNT Games

Proceeds will go toward anti-discrimination and tolerance organizations
The NBA and adidas are "selling 'We Are One' T-shirts" with the Clippers' or league's logo on them, according to Darren Rovell of The phrase was "first posted on the Clippers' website" last Tuesday, the day NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Clippers Owner Donald Sterling for life. An NBA spokesperson confirmed that all proceeds will "go toward anti-discrimination and tolerance organizations." The league in order to use the phrase "signed an agreement" with DC-based apparel company We R One, which "owns the trademark." Former NBAers Steve Francis, Sam Cassell and Nick Van Exel are "partners in the company" (, 5/5). The NBA said that the shirts will "be available in all team styles and will be sold" at the NBA store in N.Y., at Staples Center and online at (AP, 5/3).

NECESSARY STEP? SPORTS ON EARTH's Colin McGowan writes selling the shirt "isn't a cash grab," but the league has "two discrete aims, one considerably less noble than the other." The first is "straightforwardly good and benevolent," as the NBA will be "handing some worthy non-profits oversize checks with oversize numbers on them, and there’s nothing negative to be said about that." The second, unstated purpose of this campaign is to "distance the NBA from Donald Sterling and to position it as an antiracist company." There is "hypocrisy" associated with this aim, and then there is "the fact that, like any slogan that attempts to comment on some intimidatingly large and complex issue, We Are One is like trying to use emoji to talk about love." McGowan notes he is not "saying the NBA should have done nothing." But the "NBA-as-brand can butt out of this saga, because it has nothing useful to contribute" (, 5/6).

SPONSORSHIP SHUFFLE: AD AGE's McCarthy, Schultz & Zmuda reported McDonald's is "returning to advertise" on Clippers NBA playoff telecasts on TNT. McDonald's "yanked its planned national advertising from last Tuesday's telecast" of Clippers-Warriors Game 5. But McDonald's, which is "not an actual sponsor of the team, was back in the rotation for TNT's telecast" of Saturday's Game 7. McDonald's Dir of Media Relations Lisa McComb said that the QSR's decision to pull out of Game 5 was "made by the client, not by its ad agencies." Meanwhile, Corona is "dumping its team sponsorship" of the Clippers. Constellation Brands Beer Division CMO Jim Sabia said that Corona, its subsidiary, will "continue to advertise during national NBA telecasts" (, 5/5).
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