(National Sentinel) Sports Activism: Several long-time advertisers are threatening to pull ads from the NFL if pre-game disrepectful protests of the flag, the military and the National Anthem continue, one sports website is reporting.
However the site, AwfulAnnouncing.com, adds that so far, advertisers have been all talk and no action. That said, a number of advertisers are still threatening to pull ads.
NBCUniversal executive Linda Yaccarino said during a chat moderated by AdAge on Friday that others have taken a similar approach as Papa John’s Pizza, whose CEO and founder John Schnatter said last that the league had demonstrated “poor leadership” by not resolving the issue already, adding that the protests are “polarizing the customer, polarizing the country.”
Thus far, all Papa John’s has done is remove the NFL logo from some of its marketing. That could change, however, if protest-induced viewership declines continue.
As noted by AdAge:
Yaccarino … said that none of NBCUniversal’s NFL advertisers have pulled out of NBC’s Sunday Night Football or Thursday Night Football games. However, a “list of advertisers have made themselves very clear: if you continue covering the political coverage of the issue, we will not be part of the NFL,” she said. “Because think about it: they have half the country that is cheering about that, and they have half the country that is emailing them, saying, don’t do that. So that’s a real thing.”
Yaccarino also says that even though she may not yet be able to prove it, she believes the protesting has definitely affected viewership:
She noted that prior to the controversy, which started last season when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began to kneel during the national anthem, “most” NFL games didn’t broadcast the anthem, aside from big games like the Super Bowl. “The story has morphed dramatically, from social injustice to patriotism,” said Yaccarino. “While I don’t think there’s any way you could ever really prove it, I do think it has impacted the ratings.”
There may be a lot of posturing going on at the moment, AwfulAnnouncing.com noted, but it’s not clear that’s all it will amount to. If advertisers begin to get hit with some of the same boycotting going on among NFL fans who have stopped watching games, their attitudes may quickly change.
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