Athletic gear maker Nike terminates its endorsement deal with boxer Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao following the senatorial candidate’s homophobic comments.
In a statement Nike said, “We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent.”
Sarangani representative Pacquiao said on TV that “gay people are worse than animals,” prompting outrage, and had cited the Bible to defend his comments. Although he later apologized, he maintained his position that he remains against same-sex marriage.
The tone of the comments and the subsequent apology was too little, too late for Nike, wrote John Kell of Fortune magazine (as published by Entrepreneur.com.)
“Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community,” the statement read.
CNNMoney noted that Nike has been supportive of gay rights and has promoted a "BeTrue" campaign that features products bearing the rainbow flag.
“We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao,” Nike added. Pacquiao's deal with Nike had produced the lucrative "Manny Knows" t-shirts.
Apart from Nike, Pacquiao boosted his income through international deals with Foot Locker, Wonderful Pistachios, Nestlé’s Butterfinger, Forbes noted.
Locally, Pacquiao endorsers a gamut of brands, with logos of such endorsements adorning the jersey he wears during his fights. Among these endorsements include Head and Shoulders shampoo, Rexona deodorant, San Miguel beer, Pizza Hut, Kia Motors, Motolite, Xtreme Magic Sing—thus prompting the nickname "Pambansang Endorser" (National Endorser).
Dropping Pacquiao as an endorser is a bold move from Nike, which “has a mixed track record as far as how it handles athletes who are embroiled in scandal,” CNNMoney noted.
For instance, Nike chose to keep its contract with golfer Tiger Woods despite accounts of his infidelity, even releasing an ad campaign featuring the golfer’s comeback with the slogan, "Winning takes care of everything," CNNMoney added.
Kobe Bryant also kept his deal with Nike even after he was charged with sexual assault in 2003, which charges were eventually dropped.
Lynda is the editor in chief of Entrepreneur.com.ph. Follow her on Twitter, @.