Despite several months of controversy and endless distractions for the Miami Heat, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and company have engineered a thrilling playoff run that has landed the team in the NBA Finals. Now, to stay focused. After all, the last thing a team striving for the championship needs is distraction, like, say, a company representing the Lamborghini family – eponymous with the famous sports car — claiming that a Miami businessman has fraudulently partnered with the team’s arena to promote an energy drink licensed with the Lamborghini name. Oops. Too late!
Last week, Tonino Lamborghini, an Italian company charged with licensing products in the Lamborghini name, issued a statement claiming that Kenneth La Grave, founder of Eagle Investment Group of North America, has deceitfully claimed to act on behalf of the company by authorizing a sales and marketing partnership with AmericanAirlines Arena, the home of those very same Miami Heat.
Though La Grave has not replied to repeated requests for comment, he was quoted in a March 22 press release issued by AmericanAirlines Arena titled “AmericanAirlines Arena Signs Partnership with Tonino Lamborghini Energy Drink.”
In that release, La Grave stated that, “Tonino Lamborghini Energy Drink is proud to be an official partner of the American Airlines Arena… a very valuable marketing asset that links very nicely with the unique style and high quality of Tonino Lamborghini Energy Drink. We look forward to utilizing our partnership to enhance our brand presence in Miami with our customers and consumers.”
The product debuted in a Miami nightclub last spring, according to several press releases. But according to the Tonino Lamborghini Group, La Grave shouldn’t have anything to do with it.
“Eagle Investment does not have – and has never had – any right to represent and /or act on behalf of the Tonino Lamborghini Group, neither to sign advertising and promotion agreement for the promotion of the Tonino Lamborghini Energy Drink,” the press release stated.
Since BevNET’s initial inquiry into the matter – and just days prior to the Miami Heat’s first NBA Finals appearance in five years – the press release has been removed from the arena’s website and corresponding links have been altered and visitors redirected to its homepage.
In an e-mail received by BevNET, AmericanAirlines stated that “The AmericanAirlines Arena is not currently affiliated with Tonino Lamborghini or, to our knowledge, any company distributing the Tonino Lamborghini Energy Drink product. However, an affiliated distributor of the Tonino Lamborghini Energy Drink product did previously advertise in the Arena.”
And on the eve of the first game of the NBA Finals – in Miami – it’s not surprising that AmericanAirlines Arena has not responded to repeated e-mails and calls to for further comment.