Whoa: Budweiser makes HUGE move on NFL sponsorship…

For years, perhaps nothing was more American than football Sundays with a side of Budweiser beer. While the NFL became the country’s most popular sport, Budweiser and Bud Light became two of America’s best selling beers. For millions of Americans, the combination has become a Sunday tradition.

For their part, the two cultural giants seemed to realize their unique standing in the marketplace. Throughout the years, Anheuser-Busch and the NFL forged a massive advertising relationship. As Anheuser-Busch’s Super Bowl commercials became must-see TV, the NFL struck a deal to put team logos on Bud Light cans. Until now, the relationship between the NFL and Anheuser-Busch has been mutually beneficial.

However, times have changed. With the NFL and its players making political statements that have angered millions of Americans, Anheuser-Busch has been put in a tough position. For a company that prides itself on patriotism, being associated with a league that protests the flag might not be in their best interest. Knowing that, the company has opened up a helpline to solicit feedback from customers, and that may be bad news for the NFL.

From Bizpac Review:

The NFL player protests of the National Anthem have backfired in a major way on the league. It has seen sponsors pull out, ratings decline and teams play in front of practically empty stadiums.

But a sponsor like Budweiser ending its support of the league would be a devastating blow.

And if the company’s hotline is to be believed, the NFL has something to be concerned about.

When customers call the number, 1-800-342-5283, they are greeted by a recording which gives, as its first option, a chance for anyone for or against the player protests to voice their opinions.

“If you are calling with questions or comments about Anheuser-Busch’s sponsorship of the NFL, press one,” the recorded voice says.

“At Anheuser-Busch we have a long heritage of supporting the nation’s armed forces, veterans and military dependants,” the voice says. “The National Anthem is a point of pride for our company and for the 1,100 veterans that we employ. Please feel free to share your feedback after the tone.”

The helpline was inundated with so many calls, the company was forced to temporarily take it down Friday.

The massive amount of pressure on Anheuser-Busch could be a devastating blow to the NFL. As the protests have caused ratings to slide, sponsors have started to take their money elsewhere. However, the loss of Anheuser-Busch would be the worst news yet for the reeling league.

With the NBA recently announcing their plans to enforce rules respecting the flag, it may be time for the NFL to crack down on the protests. If they don’t, the bad news could keep coming for America’s favorite sport.

[Note: This post was authored by Michael Lee. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee]

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