NFL dropping Levitra: hypocrisy or decency?

By Published on .

It's a passionate topic, to be sure: The National Football League's decision to sever its sponsorship ties with erectile-dysfunction drug Levitra, citing the increasingly risque look of its creative as part of its decision.

For AdAge.com readers, the long and the short of it were nearly equal. Some applauded the league for its decision; other said it smacked of hypocrisy, censorship and caving in to public pressure.

"I am amazed this is even a question," wrote Nita Wilkinson, marketing director for a nursing center in Bellefontaine, Ohio. "The NFL supports beer commercials with scantily clad women, they allowed the Go Daddy commercial during the [2005] Super Bowl and put their `cheerleaders' in front of us every week shaking their bon-bons. Now they worry about sexuality in a drug that actually is beneficial. It makes me laugh."

"The NFL's decision to cease accepting ads from these products is retrograde and out of step with the realities of American life," wrote Patrick Walshe, CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group, Canada.

Jane Zieper, a producer with Kaplan Thaler Group in New York, (the agency has business for Pfizer, but not its ED drug, Viagra) said she believed the NFL "caved to pressure from conservatives. Isn't ED an affliction that can be improved? That doesn't sound like a morality question to me."

But others agreed with the NFL, particularly the league's assessment that creative in the advertising had changed from a men's health issue to a lifestyle issue.

"The ads have shifted from `you can't make it happen, let us help,' to `hey, what's wrong with you-you owe it to yourself (and your partner) to be a real man,'" wrote Kevin Wells, VP-business development for Boston-based Mobot.

Others had more simplified reasoning to support the NFL.

"Should I really have to explain what erectile dysfunction is to my inquisitive 11-, 9- and 7-year-old boys at the two-minute warning?" asked Chris Creedon, director-consumer promotion and sponsorships, Cadbury-Schweppes America, Plano, Texas. "Doesn't the challenge behind direct-to-consumer marketing lie in being as targeted as possible? . . . Stop being lazy and forge new ground in target marketing."

What you say: 51% of AdAge.com voters think the NFL made the wrong move by ending its sponsorship deal with Levitra, an erectile-dysfunction drug, saying the league was giving in to pressure from conservatives. The remaining 49% said the league was right to cut ties, agreeing with the NFL’s reasoning that the creative in the advertising had moved away from its health focus and become more risque.

In this article:
Most Popular