The impact of the scandals surrounding former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and suspended Minnesota Vikings back Adrian Peterson has now impacted sponsorships, according to a story by The Hollywood Reporter.
Radisson Hotels became the first sponsor to drop out when it suspended its sponsorship of the Vikings earlier this month. While neither Rice nor Peterson will suit up for some time, more sponsors are concerned with wrapping their brands around the teams they played for. As such, they've quietly shifted their ads away from games featuring the Ravens and Vikings according to the report:
Several NFL sponsors also are asking questions. Multiple media buyers tell THR that clients have requested their ads not appear during games featuring the Ravens or Minnesota Vikings, the team of suspended running back Adrian Peterson (due in a Texas court Oct. 8 on a child abuse charge for whipping his 4-year-old son). CBS, which kicked off its $275 million Thursday Night Football package Sept. 11 with strong ratings for a Ravens game, had one sponsor ask to be removed from the broadcast and another request its ads shift, likely away from a discussion of the violence issue during CBS Sports' pregame report. CBS declined to identify the sponsors.
Shifting advertisements, while significant, does not have the same impact as actually losing sponsors. According to Sports Illustrated, no sponsor has yet fully dropped the NFL. Still, Anheuser-Busch publicly criticized the league's handling of these recent controversies, and the threat of withdrawing support is real if the PR hit becomes too overpowering. All of this shows that while the NFL is still the king of American sports, it's not too big to fail.
Both Rice and Peterson are the subject of off-field scandals that have engulfed the NFL news cycle as of late. During the offseason, Rice knocked out his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino elevator. A tape of him dragging his unconscious partner surfaced online, and the NFL suspended him for two games. Fast forward to September, and leaked footage taken from inside the elevator showed the graphic details of Rice's assault on Palmer, which led to the running back's release from the Ravens and an indefinite suspension from the league.
That same week, Peterson was indicted by a grand jury in Texas for reckless or negligent injury of a child. Peterson was immediately deactivated by the Vikings, but brought back the following Monday, inciting criticism from sponsors including sponsors Nike and Anheuser-Busch. Minnesota reversed course, placing Peterson on the exempt/commissioner's permission list, removing him from the team.