When rebrands go wrong

(And how to avoid the pitfalls)

Adidas drops Gumball 3000 rally sponsorship after fatal accident

By Catherine Turner

Gumball%203000Adidas has pulled its multi-million pound sponsorship of celebrity rally Gumball 3000 following a fatal accident.

The sportswear company, which signed a three-year deal to headline sponsor the race, is believed to have pulled out "indefinitely". This year's event was cancelled a day before it was due to finish in London after one of the teams, racing a £120,000 Porsche, was involved in a collision with a car uninvolved in the rally in Macedonia.

Adidas, under its Originals lifestyle brand, also launched Gumball limited edition trainers with exclusive distribution through retailer Foot Locker. It is not known if the trainers have been pulled from sale although Adidas is dropping other connections to the rally, such as website www.join-therally.com, which now automatically redirects to the Adidas home page.

The deal - worth over £1m a year - was signed last month prior to the start of the annual 3,000-mile, eight-day event, which draws celebrities, "trustafarians" and wealthy thrill-seekers.

Adidas also sponsored a team, with celebrity drivers Xzibit, a US hip-hop artist, and Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay. However, Xzibit lost his driving licence and was ordered to pay a fine after he was caught speeding during the Netherlands leg of the rally. Other brands with teams taking part included Vogue magazine.

The withdrawal will be a blow for Gumball, which is in its ninth year. Plans for the 10th year anniversary were believed to include an ambition "flying" element, with the rally finishing in Sydney. Gumball 3000 has evolved into a money-spinning brand for creator Maximillion Cooper, who in April 1999 invited 50 of his friends to take part in a party around Europe.

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