The fan revolt against the National Football League for its embrace of cop-hating players who snub the Star-Spangled Banner before games has been stronger and more persistent than originally expected, but one of the NFL’s major advertising partners has confirmed it’s not rethinking its relationship with the league.
CNS News reports that Anheuser-Busch confirmed to them it will not be ending its sponsorship of the NFL anytime soon, despite the brewing company getting flooded with so many calls about the NFL kneelers that it set up a branch on their automated customer service line specifically for directing them. The company also suggested that customer feedback was not a factor in their decision.
“The Anheuser-Busch phone line has always been available for consumer inquiries on a variety of topics, but we are not conducting a survey regarding our NFL sponsorship.
“We have many long-term sports partnerships, including our NFL sponsorship, and while we may not agree on everything, we still believe in the power of sport to bring people together and overcome their differences. We have no plans to end our NFL sponsorship.”
Translation: as long as you keep buying our beer, we don’t care how offended you are. Keep that in mind, America.
This is disappointing, but not surprising. Last week, TFPP reported that while several advertisers had followed President Donald Trump’s — and more importantly, their customers’ — call to sever ties with the NFL, Anheuser-Busch issued a statement that tepidly distanced the company from the anti-American protests, but signaled not to expect anything more than that:
At Anheuser-Busch we have a long heritage of supporting the institutions and values that have made America so strong. That includes our armed forces and the national anthem as well as diversity, equality and freedom of speech. We proudly employ over 1,100 military veterans and we work every day to create an inclusive environment for all of our employees. Because only together can we achieve our dream of bringing people together for a better world.
We have many long-term sports partnerships, including our NFL sponsorship, and while we may not agree on everything, we still believe in the power of sport to bring people together and overcome their differences.
Anheuser-Busch’s flowery rhetoric about corporate values is all well and good, but it’s ultimately just window dressing the company doesn’t particularly mean. Their only real determination here is that they still make more money advertising with the NFL than they would without them. The good news, of course, is that also means that where you take your own business can impact whether that cost-benefit analysis remains the case.
This story should also serve as a reminder that the moral decay within the NFL is not resolved. It may be tempting and understandable to start watching games and buying merchandise again as soon as players resume standing for the National Anthem, but the simple fact is that it’s about more than that now. We know who these people are now. We know how ugly their real values and character are.
Standing for the anthem just to avoid bad PR doesn’t change the fact that so few of these players are decent role models for our kids. It doesn’t address the rampant criminality within the NFL’s ranks. It doesn’t replace the commissioner, coaches, and team owners who think slandering America’s police is just fine.
The culture war continues, and Anheuser-Busch has chosen its side. How will you respond?