Nike & Oakley Distance Themselves from Pistorius Sponsorship

February 19, 2013

Sponsors, Nike and Oakley have distanced themselves from Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius after the South African sports star was formally charged with ‘premeditated’ murder.

Oakley, the eyewear maker, suspended its contract with Pistorius and Nike, which sells shoes and other athletic gear, said on Monday it has no plans to use him in future ad campaigns.

On Thursday, he was arrested and charged with shooting his girlfriend dead in his home in South Africa. His family has denied that he murdered his girlfriend, the model Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius’ agent has cancelled the athlete’s future scheduled races.

Nike Inc confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday that it has no plans to use Pistorius in future campaigns. Nike spokesman KeJuan Wilkins declined to say whether Nike had previously had any plans for Pistorius, or whether it will remove current advertising that includes him.

A 2007 Nike internet ad showing Pistorius starting to sprint in his blades with the caption: ‘I am the bullet in the chamber’ had already been pulled.

Wilkins said the wording in the 2007 campaign ‘was in reference to Oscar’s speed and performance on the track. Nike felt it was appropriate to take the ad down from Oscar’s website recognising the sensitivities of the situation’

Later on Monday, Oakley, in an emailed statement, said that ‘in light of the recent allegations, Oakley is suspending its contract with Oscar Pistorius, effective immediately’. The California company, a unit of Italian glasses and sunglasses maker Luxottica Group, has been associated with Pistorius since 2009, according to the athlete’s website.