Theses on Kaepernick

Nike Kaepernick ad 1. It is brilliant, well-researched and planned marketing. It will massively increase brand interest and loyalty while generating news for some considerable period.

2. If you watch regular TV these days, you see that “cause marketing” is rampant. Corporations now use marketing to portray themselves as charities.

3. It is a perfect example of how trivial and broken our society is.

4. It is about selling over-priced shoes and clothes.

5. It is about whether it is right for people to strike gestural poses about vague attitudes toward racial injustice and inequality, with the clearest suggestion being the thoroughly silly idea that police reform is both possible and would somehow make everything much better in that area.

6. Live sports is as hugely important as it is in modern society because it is, by its very nature, the most reliable and durable platform for attracting eyeballs and eardrums to corporate advertising campaigns.

7. Watching sports is a deeply childish activity, particularly in a world that is probably destroying the ecological basis for further civilizational progress.

8. All our politics are now like this. If it isn’t a tempest-in-a-teapot, it gets no mention in corporate media-and-politics.

Hypocrisy, Thy Name is Corporation

captain_renault The mega-marketing platform known as the National Football League is taking some heat for its employment (Captain Renault is shocked!) of violent people.

The NFL’s hypocrisy, meanwhile, is a mere grain of sand compared to that of its sponsors. To wit:

“The behaviors are disgusting, absolutely unacceptable, and completely fly in the face of the values we at PepsiCo believe in and cherish.”

Thank you, sugar-water pusher!

“We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code.”

That’s Budweiser talking.

“As a brand that has always supported women and stood for female empowerment, COVERGIRL believes domestic violence is completely unacceptable.”

Yes, make-up is all about empowerment and equality.

“McDonald’s is a family brand.”

The only howler bigger than these shameless lies about corporate values is the suggestion that any of these capitalist behemoths might ever refrain from availing themselves of the NFL’s services as an eyeballs-and-eardrums rancher.

Another Subsidy

horses Ad Age has a column in which a figure named Benjamin Duchek, “the principal of Socialgence and a former Army artillery officer,” argues that the military radically under-charges its marketing partners for use of its brands and images. “Why,” wonders Duchek,

do the government and its marketers give troops away at a ridiculously low price to any sporting organization or beer company that wants to parade them as a prop for an event? In 2012, the National Football League donated $800,000 to three military-related non-profits as part of a Veterans Day Salute to Service. That amount is nothing but a rounding error on the billions that the league brings in throughout the year. Yet it gives the league carte blanche to integrate armed forces branding into its website, TV broadcasts and apparel.

Quite so. The military could almost certainly insist on a much better deal than that, and its restraint in not doing so is, as Duchek argues, a subsidy from the public sector to big business marketing endeavors.

Of course, what Duchek misses is that it’s equally true that the military probably gets back at least as much as it concedes. Soldiers are certainly exploited laborers, but radically under-charging for military marketing services is not without benefit to the Pentagon, which is, after all, the entity making the call. In return for the near-free use of the “our heroes” and “support our troops” brands/tropes, the military receives free exposure for these crucial ideologies among a huge, highly suggestible, and important audience. All of which makes the next Pentagon budget and the next war that much safer.

Of course, one of the major target audiences for all the soldier-worship is the next batch of grunts. Judging by the inability of ex-soldiers like Duchek to perceive the systemic nature of their situation and labors, the in-kind marketing symbiosis seems to be working rather well, despite the extreme puniness of the purported benefits to the little people.


nfl_pink As it recovers from locking out its employees and tries to stave off its players’ claims about its obvious extreme health dangers, the National Football League continues to exploit breast cancer to soften its image and increase the emotional habits and brand loyalties on which it trades.

Idoubtit, an excellent “skeptic” blogger and activist, has started a helpful thread on the topic.

The numbers involved are fascinating. The NFL has annual revenues of $9.5 billion, and yearly profits of $979 million. Business Insider reports:

According to the website, by purchasing pink items in the NFL Shop, fans can “support the fight against breast cancer with pink NFL breast cancer awareness gear.” Of course, there is a huge difference between supporting “awareness” and donating money to research. In the case of the former, most of the money ends up in the pockets of billionaire NFL owners.

When we contacted the NFL’s online shop for clarification, we were told 5% of the sales are being donated to the American Cancer Society. If the pink products have a typical 100% mark-up at retail, that means the NFL is keeping 90% of the profit from the sale of Breast Cancer Awareness gear.

And then consider that only 70.8% of money the ACS receives goes towards research and cancer programs. So, for every $100 in sales of pink gear, only $3.54 is going towards research while the NFL is keeping approximately $45 (based on 100% mark-up).

When the NFL wrote back to Business Insider to “clarify” the facts, it defended itself by saying it donates “approximately $1 million per year” to this cause it wants its fans to believe it seriously cares about.

“Approximately one million dollars,” however, is a mere one tenth of one percent of the NFL’s annual profits, and roughly one one-hundredth of one percent of its revenues.

Gosh, I wonder why they don’t brag about those numbers…