The NFL’s Most Important Partners Issued Warning If They Continue To Protect Protesters

Updated November 15, 2017

More viewers than ever before are turning off the TV sets when NFL games come on. As more players join the national anthem protest to raise awareness about police brutality and racial injustice in America, fans and sponsors are growing outraged. Just last week, the owner of Papa John’s blamed the NLF players for hurting his pizza sales. And he has pulled massive advertising campaigns from the NFL, in a game-changing move that will hurt the league’s bottom line.

But Papa John’s is not the only major brand that is fighting back against the NFL protestors. Now a coalition of brands has issued a massive threat to NBC. Either the network can quit covering the players’ protest or these brands will stop advertising on their network.

The chairwoman of advertising sales at NBCUniversal, Linda Yaccarino, shared the message from the brands in an interview hosted at a New York City event hosted by the ad agency, R/GA.

Yaccarino said, “There is a list of advertisers that have made themselves very clear: ‘If you continue to cover the political coverage of the issue, we will not be part of the NFL.’ Think about it – they have half the country that is cheering about that and half the country that is emailing them saying, ‘Don’t do that.’ That’s a real thing.”

Although no advertisers have pulled ads yet on NBC, brands suggested to Yaccarino that that would change unless the network put the cameras elsewhere during the national anthem.

“The story has morphed dramatically,” she added at the advertising conference.

NFL ratings continue to plummet as players protest the national anthem.

When President Donald Trump called players a “son of a b***h” for taking a knee during the national anthem, the issue has become much more heated. The president called for the NFL and team owners to stop players from protesting, but they are unable to make them stop.

As of September, a poll found that two-thirds of Americans agreed with President Trump. 64-percent of Americans believe that athletes should stand during the national anthem to show respect to the flag, the country and the military veterans who risk their lives fighting for America.

Last week, Papa John’s pizza said they were “disappointed the NFL, and its leadership did not resolve” the protests. Papa John’s share value has dropped significantly since December 2016.

During the New York conference, Yaccarino said that marketers much like the president and the majority of fans want to focus on the game rather than the protestors.

According to, Yaccarino added:

“We’re at a really important inflection point in the market. What’s going to affect this over the next three years is an absolute, maybe legislated, discipline that needs to come to the digital space. Whether it influences our elections, whether it’s a discipline when it comes to measurement or a damn basic respect for the consumer and putting the right ad with the right content where it was intended, and you don’t have a consequence if you don’t behave that way? There’s enough friction that’s going to go.”