Group Account Director/Celebrity Endorsement & IP
The Marketing Arm
Q: With Lance Armstrong facing more doping allegations, how would you counsel brand s who are currently partnered with him? Should the brand drop him as an endorser?
A: The decision would be heavily based on the language in the contract regarding image/conduct/morals. Regardless of what a brand might want to do or what people think they should do, the contract will govern what decisions they are and are not permitted to make.
If the brand has a morals clause in the contract which states they can terminate the contract if Lance is accused of, charged with and /or convicted of a crime (misdemeanor and /or felony), then at this point they’d have grounds to terminate him if they wanted to.
But even if this is the case, a brand that’s aligned with Lance is in a difficult position. Clearly, there’s a lot of smoke around Lance right now. But he’s not been formally charged with anything and no one can truly say for sure whether he’s done anything wrong.
So for a brand partner, it’s a bit of a Catch 22. If the brand terminates his contract now and it came out later that the allegations were false, or if they terminated and Lance went to trial and was found not guilty, that may reflect negatively on the brand . After all, they terminated without stand ing by their partner. By terminating without Lance being charged, the brand might be be perceived as going against what the U.S. Justice System is founded on — innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, that’s not how the court of public opinion works.
On the other hand , if a brand stand s by Lance, and the allegations are found to be true, charges are brought against him and he’s convicted, then they’ve obviously spent a lot of money and associated themselves with a felon.
Ultimately, the language in the contract will most likely dictate their course of action.