Regardless of the season, the NFL can always benefit from goodwill and positive press. It seems the league and/or its players remain mired in scandal and controversy. While ratings suffered early in the season, partially credited to the brutal political climate, since the season concluded two weeks ago, much of the league’s talk has centered around what else…politics. New England Patriots players (five black, one white) came under fire for opting out of the traditional White House visit reserved for Super Bowl champions, while quarterback Tom Brady defended his choice to skip the team’s 2015 visit during then-President Obama’s term. Also, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, and Brady share an unapologetic friendship with the current president who surrounds himself with white supremacists and advances a hate fueled agenda targeting Muslims, immigrants, people of color and women.
In general, the NFL is unable to successfully shake its exclusionary good ol’ boy club reputation. From questioning the efficacy of the Rooney Rule, an initiative hoped to ignite a black coach hiring spree, to its repeated mishandling of alleged domestic violence and sexual assault accusations, to its anything but progressive stance on LBGTQ issues, the NFL is constantly on defense.
The NFL has teamed up with The Ad Council on a new ad called “Fans of Love,” as part of a greater “Love Has No Labels,” campaign. “Fans of Love” centers around a much needed message — love, acceptance, and inclusivity. The Kiss Cam at the Pro Bowl in Orlando, the city of the tragic hate crime at Pulse nightclub which killed 49 people, is the focal point of the ad. While the couples featured on the kiss cam are the true heroes. Interracial couples, gay couples, straight couples, may-december couples, senior citizen couples, couples of different faiths, budding friendships, and children with disabilities are spotlighted in celebration of love. “Show Me Love” by Hundred Waters provides the perfect tone with open-hearted lyrics such as, “Don’t let me show cruelty, though I may make mistakes. Don’t let me show ugliness, though I know I can hate.”
Given the divisive and fear-inducing tone set by #45, brand statement’s in direct opposition of Trump’s policies is seen as a purposeful reaction and powerful message delivered to the American people. Just as Trump and his cabinet boldly declare to make America great again by reclaiming the country’s male whiteness, companies are rejecting that notion by engaging in corporate social responsibility through philanthropic and/or purpose-driven marketing that favor diversity and inclusion.
When the NFL uses its platform to spread an all-encompassing message of love without labels, in spite of the backlash it received for a Colin Kaepernick led injustice boycott of the national anthem, the resistance against Trump’s America with borders rages on in a major way.
photo via R/GA