L.A. Clippers Launch Agency Review in Wake of Sterling Scandal

Team Seeks Experience in 'Rebuilding an Established Well-Known Brand'

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The Los Angeles Clippers are looking for a new agency to help reposition the team's brand in the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal.

Steve Ballmer
Steve Ballmer

The move comes just a few months after former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bid a whopping $2 billion for the team following the controversy that erupted over owner Mr. Sterling spouting racist epithets.

The review is being led by Boston-based Pile & Co., and according to people familiar with the review, the team is mainly seeking Los Angeles-area agencies. HeilBrice, an independent agency in Irvine, Calif., had been working with the Clippers since 1999. It's not clear whether HeilBrice will participate in the review.

A Clippers spokesman confirmed the review, but did not provide any detail because the process was in progress. Executives at HeilBrice also did not respond to a request for comment.

The request for proposals does not supply much detail in terms of why the team is looking for a new agency, but it may well be that the team is seeking to distance itself from the Sterling scandal and refresh its brand. According to the RFP, the team seeks agencies with relevant experience in "rebuilding an established, well-known brand," and is able to expand a client's target audience and create sales-driving retail work.

After the recording of Mr. Sterling was released, he received a lifetime ban from the National Basketball Association along with a $2.5 million fine. Mr. Sterling's estranged wife, Shelley Sterling, struck a deal with Mr. Ballmer in May to sell the team after she conferred with a team of doctors who determined that Mr. Sterling was mentally unfit.

The sale to Mr. Ballmer is not finalized. Mr. Sterling had vowed to never sell the team and filed a lawsuit against Ms. Sterling and the league, charging that a sale requires his approval. A judge in late July issued a preliminary ruling in favor of Ms. Sterling, clearing the way for the sale to Mr. Ballmer.

The Clippers, according to Kantar Media, are not hefty measured-media spenders. The team spent $433,500 in 2013, down from $615,100 in 2012.

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