Brands stick by Pacquiao despite LGBT comments, Nike termination

MANILA, Philippines - Nike may no longer be associated with Manny Pacquiao but other brands have so far stuck by the Filipino boxing legend.

Pacquiao’s show business manager Arnold Vegafria, who handles the 8-division boxing champion’s endorsement deals, told Rappler that the numerous local brands which sponsor him have as of yet not contacted him about following Nike’s lead. 

“The other endorsements, we didn’t get any letters. They’re still supporting us,” said Vegafria. 

“Actually other brands, especially local brands, are still supportive of us until now because they can feel what is his [message]. They’re still loyal to us.  

“Actually I still have upcoming endorsements, they’re still more. We just finished one Chinese endorsement, we just finished an Indonesian endorsement so we still have more. I think they’re not affected with what he said about LGBT.” 

Among the brands that still sponsor Pacquiao are East West Bank, Kia Motors, LBC, Rexona, Motolite, Pizza Hut Philippines, Ricoa, PLDT, Bench, Robust Energy Drink, Cafe Puro, Alaxan, Organo Gold, Picar Place, AMA Realty as well as Chinese cellphone brand ZH&K.

Vegafria said that Paquiao recently did shoots to promote brands in Indonesia and China, which he didn’t want to name yet “because the issue is still very hot.” 

Vegafria said that Pacquiao’s deal for a paid endorsement with Nike had lapsed in 2014 and that Nike had only been sponsoring his apparel line. Vegafria likens the arrangement to an “ex-deal” and added that he has been in negotiations with apparel brands since last year on Pacquiao’s behalf. 

“I’m in the middle of negotiating with the two biggest sports apparel [brands] but I don’t want to mention names because it’s not fair,” said Vegafria. “Prior to that, since last year, I’m already negotiating some sports apparel brand but you know Manny, he’s very loyal to the brand, even it’s expired, he’s still supporting. 

“Maybe it’s a good thing they terminated, that it came from them so that now we can now have freedom to negotiate with the other brands.” 

An email was sent to Nike by Rappler seeking comment on the matter that has yet to be answered.

Pacquiao, who is training for his April 9 rubber match with Timothy Bradley Jr in Las Vegas, sparked outrage earlier this week when a viral video spread in which he said that gay couples were “worse than animals" while discussing same-sex marriage.

The 37-year-old two-term congressman is running for a seat in the Philippine Senate, with general elections set for May 9. 

Nike released a statement on Thursday announcing they were severing ties with Pacquiao, calling his comments “abhorrent.”

Pacquiao apologized for likening homosexuals to animals shortly after but doubled down on his stance that he is opposed to gay marriage due to his conservative Christian beliefs on Friday, February 19.

"What I did wrong was just comparing the people to animals, but you know what I am telling is the truth," he said, while still wearing his Nike training outfit.

"I mean I am just telling what the Bible says. We believe God and then we should honor the word of God."

Vegafria said he believes Pacquiao’s marketability and appeal will rebound in time. 

“He will rebound because the Lord is with him. He already apologized for the words that he said. but he knows and he believes that The Lord is on his side.  

“We hope and pray that he will win the fight, he will give honor to our country again and I’m sure the Filipinos will be proud of him again. Even the LGBT will be proud of him again.” – Rappler.com