NFL News: 2015 Super Bowl Ad Sales Continue to Roll in Despite Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson Controversies
The National Football League (NFL) is proving to be "too big to fail" despite the controversies involving former Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
Not one of the league's corporate sponsors pulled their money from the league despite expressing concerns over how NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's office dealt with each scandal, particularly over Rice's domestic violence case, while 90 percent of Super Bowl XLIX ad sales have been sold already for the February 1st telecast.
And despite some companies having decided to pass on advertising during Super Bowl Sunday for a variety of reasons other than the Rice and Peterson controversies, other corporations are stepping in -- such as Nationwide, who has not advertised during the NFL title game since 2007, willingly forking over $4 million for a 30-second spot.
"I realize there may be a new tape regarding Ray Rice's domestic violence incident out there, which may have a slight impact, but people may not be as angry in February as they were in September, especially after the punishments have been handed down," said Ohio University sports management professor Michael Pfahl to Latin Post. "Some people may turn away from the sport, but quite a few fans separate the two incidents from the game itself. Fans can separate the two as an incident between two people who did something wrong and not connect it to the league."
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While the Super Bowl advertising money spigot will continue to flow, what may change is the messaging within the commercials in light of the domestic violence and child abuse incidents gearing towards a family-friendly tone that appeals to women.
"[Advertisers are] going to be looking at it from a completely different lens this year in terms of the kind of messages they want to be played during the Super Bowl," said CEO for the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A) Nancy Hill to Bloomberg.com. "I think you're going to see a lot of pro-female types of messaging. We're already starting to see that as a trend in advertising -- the strong woman -- and representing her in a different way. I also think, from some other companies, you're going to see dads represented in a different way, probably more modern and not as the dumb guy in the corner of the room. And you might also see some messages not unlike what Coca-Cola did last year that are about empowering the human spirit."
Despite the issues that swirled around the NFL, professional football viewership among women is at an all-time high, having increased by five percent in the 18-49 women's demographic and by 4.5 percent in the adult womens demo. According to SportsBusinessDaily.com, women make up one-third of the league's overall viewing audience, with the league hoping to increase that to 45 percent in the coming years.
"I don't think everybody should go overboard and make it the 'do-gooder' Super Bowl," said 4A's chief marketing officer Alison Fahey to AdWeek.com. "But it may not be the year to tackle Betty White in a Snickers spot. It may not be the year for that slapstick, semi-violent tone in advertising."
One step that the league took in a bid to prevent hemorrhaging their rising female viewership was launch the "No More" campaign addressing domestic violence. Directed by "Law and Order" actress Mariska Hargitay, the public service announcements feature active players such as New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and former players such as NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Chris Carter, who played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings, urging viewers to stand up and say "no more" to domestic abuse.
Prof. Pfahl feels this is a huge step in the right direction for the league, but only if they are genuine in sparking that particular conversation in light of Ray Rice's and Adrian Peterson's cases. The "No More" campaign can blow up in the NFL's face if there is no authenticity trying to change people's view on the matter.
"Fans can see right through it if there is no follow-up," said Prof. Pfahl to Latin Post. "This is a great campaign and I hope it works, but if there is no follow-up, it will be viewed as damage control. It has to be a year-round campaign."
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