The verdict is in.
The majority of Americans believe sponsors should sever ties with the National Football League (NFL) following the handling of domestic violence and child abuse scandals that have plagued the league in recent months.
The poll, conducted by Reuters and Ipsos, found that more than half of Americans believe brands should drop sponsorships, while 30 percent said the NFL’s largest sponsors should sever ties permanently.
Only 24 percent said brands should end their sponsorship for the season.
“The only way to hurt the NFL and get its attention is with money,” said one poll respondent, Curvin Rohler, a 79-year-old retiree from Henderson, Nevada.
Still, Rohler is watching pro football games on television. “It hasn’t gotten to the point to where I would not watch it,” he said.
He is not alone. Nearly 80 percent of respondents in the Reuters/Ipsos poll said they plan to continue watching or attending football games organized by the NFL, which reaps some $9 billion in annual revenue.
“It should not be lost on anybody that America is of two minds when it comes to football in the last month,” said Jason Maloni, head of sports and entertainment team at Levick, a strategic communications firm. “They are voting with their hearts.”
Not surprisingly, there was also a split between men and women. Fifty-eight percent of women said that sponsors should back out in some way, while 49 percent of men favored such a move.
Twenty percent of those polled said the brands should do nothing.
To date, Pepsi, Budweiser, and CoverGirl have publicly criticized the NFL scandals that include former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice’s violent punching of his now-wife, and Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson‘s child abuse charges.
So far, no major sponsors have pulled out, but Procter & Gamble’s toothpaste brand Crest did cancel a promotion. And apparently, severing ties may be more difficult than it seems.
NFL sponsorship contracts are tough to break and it can cost a company more to pull out from an agreement than the amount it pays to the NFL for a branding tie-up, said Jason Maloni, head of sports and entertainment team at Levick, a strategic communications firm.
For more information on the poll and its findings, click here.
SOURCE: Reuters | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty