Sporting goods brand Head has said it intends to renew its contract with world renowned tennis player Maria Sharapova. The news come after a number of her sponsors either halted their partnership or dropped her on the back of her failed drug test during the Australian Open.
On Monday morning Sharapova called a press conference to tell the world she had failed a drug test earlier this year. She had been taking a drug that contained banned substance meldonium for health reasons.
Almost immediately after, sports brand Nike said it was halting its partnership with her pending the investigation. Swiss watch brand Tag Heuer and luxury car company Porsche also followed suit.
It struck up a debate on whether brands should stand by their athletes in time of trouble or not.
Rob Smith, managing director at sports management company CSM Sport & Entertainment told B&T it really says something about a brand if it’s able to do that, but at the same time, brands have to think about themselves and do what’s right for them.
Head has evidently decided to stand by Sharapova.
The company’s CEO Johan Eliasch said in a statement she had earned the benefit of the doubt, the ABC is reporting.
“For a decade Maria Sharapova has been a role model and woman of integrity who has inspired millions of fans around the world to play and watch tennis,” he said in a statement.
“The honesty and courage she displayed in announcing and acknowledging her mistake was admirable. Head is proud to stand behind Maria, now and into the future and we intend to extend her contract.
“We look forward to working with her and to announcing new sponsorships in the weeks and months ahead.”
B&T has contacted Head for further comment but had not heard back at the time of publication.
Lead image via Flickr – Michael Brown
Sponsorship and sports marketing is something we’ll be covering a lot of during our Ministry of Sports Marketing conference held July 19 at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney. We’ve got some incredible international speakers, so make sure you grab tickets at the early bird price here. And if you reckon you’ve got a good handle on sponsorship and have examples, enter our Awards for you chance to brag around the office.