In the wake of the NFL’s domestic abuse cases, sponsors are now being pressured to take a stand. Will all of them fall in line?
Thinking of the NFL as just a sports league is to forget that the network of 32 teams boasted a profit of more than $9 billion in 2013 alone. With the onset of four high-profile domestic violence lawsuits, sponsors are now being twisted into the media tornado that has overtaken the NFL.
CoverGirl was first up to be hit by public backlash when the brand featured a new ad image on its Facebook and Twitter, publicizing its ongoing partnership as “the official beauty sponsor of the NFL.”
Fans were not amused.
Opponents immediately made modifications to the endorsement, adding a glaring black eye to the model’s visage.
In response, CoverGirl took to its Facebook page, stating:
With their reputations and income at risk, other companies such as Visa and McDonald’s have released similar statements of guarded trust in the NFL’s ability to appropriately handle the matter.
McDonald’s in a statement:
Domestic violence and abuse are unacceptable behaviors and have no place in sports, or anywhere. As McDonald’s is a family brand, we’ve communicated our concerns to the league, and we expect it to take strong and necessary actions to address these issues.
The only brand to drop a bomb on NFL’s sponsorship outlook was Anheuser-Busch, who made it clear that fans might not be enjoying the taste of its popular Bud if the NFL doesn’t take action.
The company released a statement, stating:
Though some say Anheuser-Busch’s PR hyperbole might be all for show (the company has a $1.2 billion contract with the NFL and has been the official beer advertiser for the past 28 Super Bowls), the general uniformity across all brands’ public acknowledgements reminds us of this:
Despite the criticism of companies’ contrived responses and moderate stance, brands have an image to uphold and sales to make. Maintaining customer loyalty by severing ties with the NFL cannot substitute for the billions of dollars lost by decreased advertising. Until companies can find a way to make social statements lucrative, the resounding message still applies: Follow suit.
Take a look at what AJ Gerritson, co-founder at 451 Marketing, had to say on Fox News:
**Written by Elise Yancey, Public Relations major at Boston University (Class of 2015).