Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
November 8th, 2017
Recently, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter said his company was pulling some advertising from NFL games because player protests were making it harder to sell pizza. It was later revealed that Papa John’s was simply removing the NFL’s logo from some of its marketing, not withdrawing television ads. Schnatter’s outrage was essentially one part action, two parts bluster.
Based on comments from NBCUniversal executive Linda Yaccarino in a chat moderated by AdAge on Friday, it sounds like Papa John’s isn’t alone in that approach.
Yaccarino, NBCU’s chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships, said that while no advertisers have pulled their spots, many have threatened to do just that. Via AdAge:
Yaccarino said that so far, none of NBCUniversal’s NFL advertisers have pulled out of NBC’s Sunday Night Football or Thursday Night Football games.
She did however issue a warning that 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 believes the protests have affected ratings, even if she can’t prove it. Pictures of empty stadium seats, and falling ratings confirm her belief.
She noted that the controversy, which started last season when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began to kneel during the national anthem, by saying, “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.”
According to AdAge, CBS CEO Les Moonves said he had observed no hesitation from NFL sponsors. “I don’t know of one sponsor that has pulled out of any spot that they had, Moonves reportedly said. “I don’t think it’s affecting advertising or their desire one iota.”
So far, there has been nothing more than posturing and chest thumping by NFL advertisers, as they hope a simple warning will alleviate the necessity of taking the dramatic measure of yanking their spots.
The dogs are barking, but will the NFL listen and react before they’ve been bitten?
TV networks definitely don’t want stockholders to think they’re bleeding advertisers, but they too have turned up the heat on the NFL to prevent that from happening.
So far, with the protests having faded in the public eye somewhat, the likeliest scenario is probably that advertisers hold onto their spots, networks hold onto their ratings, NFL owners hold onto their revenue and Papa John goes back to making pizza.
But if a major brand does publicly pull out of advertising with the NFL over the protests? Hold onto your hats, because things will become very interesting, very quickly!
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