Los Angeles Clippers Name RPA New Agency After Review

Team Sought Help for Brand After Sterling Scandal

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New Clippers owner and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at a fan event.
New Clippers owner and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at a fan event. Credit: Anwar Torres/Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers have named RPA the team's new agency after a review that came on the heels of the scandal around racist comments from now-former owner Donald Sterling.

RPA will be responsible for strategy, creative, media planning and buying, digital and social marketing, as well as branded entertainment. Ultimately, the agency will be responsible for producing work that helps reposition the team's brand after the Sterling fiasco this spring.

The review began this summer and was conducted by Pile & Co. HeilBrice, an independent agency in Irvine, Calif., had been working with the Clippers since 1999.

"The Los Angeles Clippers will start the 2014–2015 season with a new creative platform that will be promoted across media channels," the team said in a statement. " Exact timing is still being established, but a campaign will most likely start in late September or early October.

RPA will help the franchise become "a first-class sports and entertainment brand," said Kirt Danner, senior VP-group account director at RPA, in a statement. "The soon-to-launch campaign will help the franchise stand out and seize this unique opportunity to gain a competitive edge and increase its fan base." A spokesman for the Clippers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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

The NBA banned Mr. Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million after recordings of the owner spouting racist epithets became public just as the team was trying to mount a playoff run. Mr. Sterling's estranged wife, Shelley Sterling, struck a deal in May to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for a whopping $2 billion after she conferred with a team of doctors who determined that Mr. Sterling was mentally unfit. Mr. Ballmer was confirmed as the new owner in August.

RPA recently was named the agency for oil company Arco, and began a campaign in July. In August, the agency lost the digital Honda account to a Publicis-Razorfish team after a review that began in January. RPA, whose relationship with Honda is approaching the three-decade mark, still handles Honda creative, and kept that account after a review that wrapped up in March 2013.

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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