After President Trump trashed the NFL for allowing players to protest during the national anthem, NFL sponsors are slowly beginning to respond to the political firestorm.
Some sponsors are issuing cautious statements that do not appear to take one side or the other, while others have unequivocally supported the players’ right to protest. The majority of sponsors have remained silent.
The NFL reaped $1.25 billion in sponsorship revenue last season.
Its official league sponsors this season are: Anheuser-Busch InBev; Barclaycard; Bose; Bridgestone; Campbell’s; Castrol; Dannon; DMI; EA Sports; Extreme Networks; FedEx; Ford; Frito-Lay (PepsiCo-owned); Gatorade (PepsiCo-owned); Hyundai; Intel; Marriott; Mars Candy; McDonald’s; Microsoft; Nationwide; New Era; News America; Nike; Papa John’s; PepsiCo; Procter & Gamble; Quaker (PepsiCo-owned); Sirius XM; Ticketmaster; Under Armour; USAA; Verizon; Visa; and Zebra.
Here’s a running list of all the sponsors to issue statements on the anthem protests so far. Yahoo Finance has reached out to every sponsor and will keep updating it as they respond.
This list was last updated at 7:44 pm ET on Sept. 29, 2017.
Under Armour was the first official sponsor to issue any kind of statement in response to Trump’s comments the night of Sept. 22. The next day, Under Armour sent out a tweet that carefully avoided taking a side.
The company said it “stands for the flag and by our Athletes for free speech, expression and a unified America.” It appears to voice support both for the anthem and for the players protesting during the anthem.
.@UnderArmour stands for the flag and by our Athletes for free speech, expression and a unified America.
— Under Armour News (@UAnews) September 23, 2017
Ford, also an NFL sponsor, said on Monday, “We respect individuals’ rights to express their views, even if they are not ones we share.”
Like Under Armour’s statement, it avoids fully siding with the president or the player protests. But the latter part of the statement (“even if they are not ones we share”) arguably implies Ford does not share the view of the player protests.
On Monday morning, Nike became the third NFL sponsor to issue a statement, and arguably the first to take a clear position: it sided with the players.
In a statement sent to the media, Nike said: “Nike supports athletes and their right to freedom of expression on issues that are of great importance to our society.”
Hyundai issued a statement on Monday afternoon that, like Nike, clearly sides with the players’ right to protest.
The statement says, “We stand for and respect individuals’ freedoms to express their first amendment rights in any peaceful manner in which they choose. We also stand for inclusion, freedom and all that represents those values.”
On Monday night, a spokesperson for Anheuser-Busch InBev sent Yahoo Finance this statement, which appears to fall into the play-it-safe, neutral category along with Under Armour and Ford:
“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.”
Bose sent out this statement on Monday night:
“Bose was founded in the United States, and our world headquarters is in Massachusetts, where it’s been for over 50 years. It’s now surrounded by several other Bose facilities – and at all of them, at all times, we proudly fly the American flag. It’s a symbol of our great country which protects the freedom for every person to express their views. We respect that freedom, whether we agree with those views or not.”
Like Ford’s statement, it plays to both sides, but arguably ends up siding more against the protests, with the “whether we agree with those views or not” clause.
Procter & Gamble
P&G, a major NFL sponsor, has not issued any statement, but its CEO David Taylor addressed the issue in a broader interview with Yahoo Finance. Here’s what Taylor answered when asked for comment:
“No, we haven’t discussed publicly. We want to make sure our brands are next to the right content, and we work very hard to be available when consumers are looking for information about brands. We push all the companies we work with to make sure the content is appropriate and they treat their viewers respectfully.”
No comment: Barclaycard, Verizon
Some brands have responded to our request for a comment by declining to comment, which is different from not responding at all.
Barclaycard and Verizon declined to comment when asked.
The rest of the NFL sponsors have not responded to our requests for comment.
Yahoo Finance will continue to monitor all the responses closely, right here.
For more on the business of the NFL and how NFL sponsors will react to political controversies involving the league, listen to our new Yahoo Finance Sportsbook podcast.