Entries in Sponsorship (4)


Pepsi Drops Tennessee Walking Horse Sponsorship

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In the wake of an ABC News investigation revealing extreme animal cruelty, Pepsi has canceled its sponsorship of the annual Tennessee Walking Horse championship, the Celebration.

The discontinuation of the relationship was "effective immediately," according to Pepsi spokesman Dave DeCecco.  The company said its logo was removed Wednesday from the Celebration website, prior to the broadcast of the ABC News report on Nightline.

The report featured undercover video made by the Humane Society of the United States that showed one of the top trainers in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, Jackie McConnell, beating and torturing horses in his stables outside Memphis.

An ABC News investigation found that large numbers of the famed horses have been tortured and beaten in order to make them produce the high-stepping gait that wins championships.

"All too often, you have to cheat to win in this sport," said Keith Dane of the Humane Society.

The undercover video led to a federal grand jury indictment of McConnell.  The tape shows McConnell and his stable hands beating horses with wooden sticks and using electric cattle prods on them as part of a training protocol to make them lift their feet in the pronounced gait judges like to see.

In another scene, McConnell oversees his hands as they apply caustic chemicals to the ankles of the horses and then wrap them with plastic wrap so the chemicals eat into the skin.

"That creates intense pain and then the ankles are wrapped with large metal chains so the horses flinch, or raise their feet even higher," said Dane of the Humane Society.

McConnell is expected to enter a guilty plea to one count, according to his lawyers.

He declined to comment, or apologize for his acts, when approached by ABC News this week outside his home.

Leaders of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry maintain that such brutality is rare and that trainers do not have to cheat to win championships, which can add millions of dollars to the value of horses.

"They do not have to cheat to win," said Dr. Steve Mullins of the group called SHOW, which oversees inspections of horses before major events.  "You don't have to do this kind of junk to win. ... And we are terribly against this stuff."

The industry group maintains that the vast majority of horses are not subjected to the cruel practice of "soring."

But a random inspection by the agents of the Department of Agriculture at last year's annual championship found that 52 of 52 horses tested positive for some sort of foreign substance around front hooves, either to cause pain or to hide it.

Dr. Mullins told ABC News there could be innocent explanations for some of the foreign substances found by the inspectors. ´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Penn State Game Sponsor Withdraws

PRNewsFoto/, Apple(COLLEGE TOWN, Pa) -- has withdrawn its sponsorship of ESPN's Saturday Afternoon College Football for the next two weeks, which includes Penn State games, making it one of the first companies to distance itself after the recent arrest of former defensive football coach Jerry Sandusky.

After a Penn State student riot over coach Joe Paterno's firing, the university may soon see more corporate sponsors rebelling against its brand.

A spokeswoman for said that the move was "due to the recent allegations surrounding the Penn State football program."

"As a proud, longtime supporter of ESPN College Football, it's important to us that we're building our brand in a way that celebrates the sport, its fans and the dedication of its student athletes," she said in a statement.

The company said it worked with ESPN to redistribute its commercial ad units during these games.

The university-wide athletics program has dozens of sponsors, like Pepsi and AT&T, who are closely watching the university's next move. The school's football program is considered its crown jewel, bringing in $72 million a year, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Sponsors Chevrolet, PNC Financial, John Deere, State Farm Insurance, the American Red Cross and healthcare company Highmark told ABC News they are not jumping ship yet.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Penn State Sponsors Anxiously Watching How Events Unfold

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- Now that it has dealt with students' anger over coach Joe Paterno's firing, Penn State University may soon have to deal with corporate sponsors rebelling against its brand.

The university-wide athletics program has dozens of sponsors, like Pepsi and AT&T, who are closely watching the university's next move.  The school's football program is considered its crown jewel, bringing in $72 million a year, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Sponsors Chevrolet, PNC Financial, John Deere, the American Red Cross and health care company Highmark told ABC News they are not jumping ship yet.

Since former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested on 40 criminal counts on Saturday for allegedly abusing at least eight boys over 15 years, no sponsor has publicly canceled its contract with Penn State.

The university's board of trustees fired legendary head football coach Joe Paterno on Thursday and university president, Graham Spanier, Wednesday evening.

It is too early to tell whether Penn State's corporate sponsors will bail on the university, said Scott Rosner, professor of legal studies and business ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Though, it is worth noting, the logo of paint company and Penn State sponsor Sherwin Williams was no longer on the press conference backdrop behind interim football coach Tom Bradley on Thursday.  Sherwin Williams did not return a request for comment.

Pepsi has had a major partnership with Penn State, including a $14 million 10-year deal from 1992 that named it the official beverage on campus.  Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO since 2006, gave the Penn State commencement address in August 2010 and was awarded an honorary degree.

Rosner said the school's brand was strengthened by the football program and its reputation had a "halo effect" on not just the athletics department but the rest of the university as well.  Rosner said the most important next move, even more so than the next university president, is who they appoint as permanent head football coach, because of the importance of the football program.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Congress Rejects Measure to Cut Funding for NASCAR Sponsorship

Photo Courtesy - Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR(WASHINGTON) -- The battle over spending continues to rage on Capitol Hill and while Republicans are keen to take an axe to the budget, the Army’s sponsorship of NASCAR was spared on Friday.

The Army spends more than $7 million a year to sponsor NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Ryan Newman and several million more as part of a partnership with NASCAR. It says the prominent ads on the car and presence at the track help attract recruits.

On Friday, the House gave the green light for that sponsorship to continue, rejecting an amendment introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) that would have blocked the Pentagon from using taxpayer dollars for NASCAR ads.

The amendment failed by a largely partisan vote of 281-148, with Republicans overwhelmingly voting against the measure.

McCollum called the NASCAR sponsorship a waste of taxpayer money and according to her office, the Minnesota Democrat’s fight will not end here. McCollum intends to introduce legislation that would prohibit taxpayer money from being used to sponsor race cars, dragsters, Indy cars and motorcycle racing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio