SBD/June 6, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Gatorade Apologizes For Taking Shots At LeBron After Cramps Force Him To Bench

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James, a Powerade endorser, drew a big response on Twitter after cramping
Gatorade has apologized "for comments posted to the company's Twitter feed" after Heat F LeBron James was forced to leave the end of Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night due to cramps, according to Tim Reynolds of the AP. The company released a statement that read, "Our apologies for our response to fans' tweets during (Thursday) night's Heat vs. Spurs game. We got caught up in the heat of the battle. As a longtime partner of the Miami Heat, we support the entire team." James is an endorser of Powerade, but Gatorade has been an official sponsor of the NBA since '84. Reynolds notes video and photos taken of James during the second half of Thursday game "showed him holding what appeared to be a Gatorade bottle with the label removed, as has been the case on many other occasions" (AP, 6/6). The tweets have been deleted from Gatorade's official feed, but YAHOO SPORTS' Johnny Ludden writes the company "took great pride in pointing out" that James supports Powerade. Many people tweeted at the official Gatorade account Thursday night wondering why James did not consume the sports drink to relieve the cramps. The account responded with several pointed barbs, including, "The person cramping wasn't our client. Our athletes can take the heat. ... This is awkward....We don't sponsor him. ... We were waiting on the sidelines, but he prefers to drink something else." Gatorade is an official NBA sponsor and includes Heat G Dwyane Wade among its endorsers. Ludden notes Powerade's official Twitter account "saluted James earlier in the game" after he joined Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant with 4,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in their postseason careers (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/6).

GAME OF THRONES: In N.Y., Kaja Whitehouse notes James now is "in the odd position of pitching products from rival companies" Samsung and Beats by Dre. James "pitches the Galaxy Note, Samsung’s tablet line and Beats by Dre headsets -- which is being bought by Apple, a bitter rival of the Korean electronics giant." Brand consultancy Landor Associates Managing Dir Allen Adamson: "He’s going to have to pick which team he wants to play for. He can’t play both sides of the field." Whitehouse noted the potential for conflict "was crystallized on Thursday when Beats unleashed a video ad to promote its new line of Solo 2 headsets." The FIFA World Cup-focused video "features James and other athletes wearing Beats." By contrast, Samsung "recently touted its LeBron James app to draw attention to its Samsung phone" (N.Y. POST, 6/6).
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