The Super Bowl is about a week away and whether your favorite part is the game, the half-time show, or the ads, it is a much anticipated event.
— NFL (@NFL) January 25, 2018
The organization formed by World War II veterans called American Veterans – also known as AMVETS – submitted an ad to be placed in the programs for Super Bowl LII.
The ad features soldiers holding the American flag with the text “#PleaseStand.” They also asked for donations to help veterans at the bottom of the ad. The ad was referencing the times NFL players chose to kneel as protest during the National Anthem before football games.
While the ad was accepted by the NHL and the NBA, the NFL rejected the submission because it made a political statement. However, in the past, there have been Super Bowl ads that were very political. Last year, Airbnb, Audi, Budweiser, 84 Lumber, and others made a statement during their 2017 ads.
AMVETS National Commander Marion Polk released this tweet after the rejection.
— Marion Polk (@AMVETSNatlCmdr) January 22, 2018
Spokesman for the NFL, Brian McCarthy, said, “The Super Bowl program is designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams, and the Super Bowl. It has never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement.”
In a letter to the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the AMVETS National Commander, Marion Polk, said that “freedom of speech works both ways”
Polk said, “We respect the rights of those who choose to protest, as these rights are precisely what our members have fought — and in many cases died — for. But imposing corporate censorship to deny the same rights to those veterans who have secured it for us all is reprehensible and totally beyond the pale.”
However, the NFL says it tried to work with AMVETS. They asked the organization to change the wording and use options such as ‘Please Honor our Veterans’ or ‘Please Stand for Our Veterans’, but AMVETS chose not change the wording of the ad.
According to McCarthy, the league and group proposed a number of possible versions of the ad but they could not agree. By the time the program had to go to print, the final version of the ad was not agreed upon and was not included in the program.
The NFL uses a third-party that sells the ads, but the football league approves the content.