The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) decided to bring formal charges against Lance Armstrong accusing him of using various prohibited performance enhancing drugs and methods including the anabolic steroid testosterone, erythropoietin (EPO) and blood doping. But Armstrong’s long-time sponsors don’t really care. They have decided to pledge their full support behind Armstrong in spite of the charges that Lance doped for over a decade. And experts unanimously agree that, from a marketing perspective, this represents a good decision. Lance Armstrong is like teflon on steroids.
Nike, Oakley, 24-Hour Fitness, Trek and Anheuser-Busch have no only stayed with Lance but some have even gone on record stating they fully support Armstrong and believe he is telling the truth.
“Our relationship with Lance remains as strong as ever,” said Nike, the manufacturer of sports apparel and footware, in a statement.
“As always we believe in Lance,” Oakley, the manufacturer of sports eyewear, said in a statement.
“Our partnership with Lance remains unchanged,” says Paul Chibe, the vice president of marketing for Anheuser-Busch.
USA Today interviewed several sports marketing experts and they unanimously agreed that continuing to support Armstrong was in the best corporate interests of the companies involved.
John Bevilaqua (a sports marketing consultant), Tony Ponturo (CEO of Ponturo Management), David Carter (director of the Sports Business Institute at the University of Southern California) and Paul Swangard (director at the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon) all supported the wisdom of a continued sponsorship of Armstrong.
Swangard didn’t even think the sponsors would necessarily leave if Armstrong was found guilty of steroids and other PEDs. His inspirational story and cancer advocacy make it likely that most people would be willing to forgive him.
However Bevilaqua disagreed. He thinks that an eventual determination of guilt by USADA would cause a mass exodus of sponsors.
“[The sponsors] would run like rabbits,” according to Bevilaqua.
Horowitz, B. (June 14, 2012). Marketers stick with Armstrong after new doping allegations. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/money/story/2012-06-14/marketers-lance-armstrong-doping-allegations/55600182/1