Since the unraveling of the Penn State scandal many brands have been scared off just like they were after the Tiger Woods incident and other controversial incidents. Penn State’s former defensive coordinator, who left the team in 1999, is facing charges that he abused eight boys as young as 10 years old in his own home and at the teams locker room showers. The abuse dates back as far as 1996 and the defensive coordinator has been under investigation since 2008. He allegedly recruited victims through a charity organization he founded known as “Second Mile.” Once the charity found out he was under investigation in 2008 they cut off all contact between him and the children.
As if this wasn’t bad enough for the university, two other coaches are accused of covering up the incidents for years. They apparently were aware of what was going on and said nothing to officials to try to stop it.
Liberty Mutual pulled its banner ads supporting the sponsorship for coach of the year awards from the website and other team fan sites. Cars.com also steered clear from their ads being associated with the team when they decided to pull ads from ESPN’s coverage of their game against Nebraska.
According to ABC News, in contrast, Nike, Chevy, John Deere, and American Red Cross have said they are not going to be ending partnership with the universities athletics.
It will be interesting to follow the story to see if more details unfold and more brands pull away from the team. In crisis situations it is important for companies and businesses to stay as far away from the negative publicity as possible. I think if I was a brand supporting the team I would be considering pulling away from the negative attention as well. Although your brand is not guilty of the crimes or scandal, it could hurt your reputation by being affiliated with the “bad guys,” and that is something that should always be remembered and considered.