Kobe Bryant can’t seem to please anyone with his endorsement choices. Earlier this week, he signed a two-year endorsement deal with Turkish Airlines to help introduce the carrier’s nonstop flights from Istanbul to Los Angeles.
It seemed innocuous enough at the time, but it’s raised the ire of Armenian Americans, according to the LA Times.
Armenian Americans – nearly 700,000 of whom live in California – have long been outraged at America’s refusal to consider the 1.5 million Armenian deaths in an early 20th century Ottoman Empire massacre a genocide. Turkey rejects the label, too.
Bryant’s endorsement of a company closely linked to that same Turkish government, has Armenian Americans prepared to boycott Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. They believe, to show remorse, Bryant must leverage his stature to push the U.S. into recognising the genocide.
The backlash is reminiscent of similar outrage after Bryant appeared in the commercial for Call of Duty Black Ops.
In both cases, Bryant probably did not foresee any repercussions for his endorsement choices. It’s not like he became the face of alcohol, cigarettes, or weapons. It’s just a video game and an airlines. But those entities come with a segment of society that works passionately and tirelessly to erase some perception for which the brand stands.
Bryant obviously has earned the right to endorse as he chooses. But this serves as another reminder that his advisors must review circumstances to a microscopic level of detail before agreeing to future deals.
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