If you haven’t heard or seen already, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was exposed a few weeks ago in a video of him hitting his wife unconscious in a hotel elevator. At the time it was released the NFL claimed they were unaware until the footage was publicized by TMZ. Much to the public’s dismay, Rice was only suspended from the first two games of the 2014 season. Like many others of the public, @smartfootball Tweeted in outrage declaring, “NFL suspended Terrelle Pryor for five games for getting free stuff in college and declaring for the supplemental draft. Ray Rice 2 games..?”
However, recent updates seem to prove otherwise. In fact according to a law enforcement source, the NFL and its commissioner, Rodger Goodell, saw the video months ago in April. Conveniently after this news was released, Rice was officially indefinitely suspended and let go by the Baltimore Ravens.
So what exactly does this have anything to do with advertising or corporate communication? CoverGirl, the official beauty sponsor of the NFL, is being criticized for maintaining the sponsorship even after news of Rice and domestic violence spread. Several members of the public have voiced their opinions Tweeting things like, “@COVERGIRL so pull your sponsorship – until then #BoycottCoverGirl” says @SFGIANTSFAN1960. @TriciaDB also Tweets, “Then do something. Until you do, I can’t support your product,” in response to CoverGirl’s public statement below.
As a brand that has always supported women and stood for female empowerment, COVERGIRL believes domestic violence is completely unacceptable. We developed our NFL program to celebrate the more than 80 million female football fans. In light of recent events, we have encouraged the NFL to take swift action on their path forward to address the issue of domestic violence.
The original voice that started the public outrage is journalist Adele Stan. Stan altered one of CoverGirl’s advertisements and Tweeted the following picture.
From there on out, others continued to edit the photo until its more realistic rendering below.
To say the least, Rice’s recent scandal and CoverGirl’s Photoshop mishap have led to a nationwide upheaval regarding a sensitive, but important, topic. Both the NFL and CoverGirl are dealing with a crisis, which reminds me of an article I read for Communication and New Media. In van Dijk’s essay, The Characteristics of New Media, he lists that new media is networked, ubiquitous, and digital and I couldn’t agree more. The web alone epitomizes his evaluation of new media being networked. Everything and everyone is constantly connected. Hyperlinks, wifi, and smart phones are just the tip of the iceberg. Similarly, new media is ubiquitous. It’s always present and available on multiple devices, and unlike a library book, multiple people can view new media at once. Although what connects all of these characteristics and CoverGirl’s scandal is the fact that new media is digital. This allows all content to be malleable and easily reproduced and CoverGirl’s altered advertisement was no exception.
COVERGIRL supports women & stands for female empowerment. We believe domestic violence is unacceptable. Read more at http://t.co/d4tG5S37PL. (2014, September 15). Retrieved September 23, 2014, from https://twitter.com/COVERGIRL/status/511705147546677249
Facebook. (2014, September 15). Retrieved September 23, 2014, from https://www.facebook.com/covergirl/posts/10152619482540865
Gaines, C. (2014, July 24). The NFL Is Suspending Ray Rice For 2 Games For Allegedly Knocking His Wife Unconcious. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from http://www.businessinsider.com/nfl-ray-rice-suspension-2014-7
Manfred, T. (2014, September 10). REPORT: NFL Official Was Sent The Ray Rice Elevator Tape In April. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from http://www.businessinsider.com/nfl-official-sent-rice-tape-2014-9
Richards, K. (2014, September 17). This Photoshopped CoverGirl Ad Is The Most Powerful Protest Against The NFL We’ve Seen. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from http://www.businessinsider.com/photoshopped-nfl-covergirl-ad-2014-9