For all the talk about the value of PR, there just may be some brands that are impervious to poor PR decisions. If there ever was one, it's the NFL. Fans, players, coaches and even President Obama have expressed their dismay with the replacement referees during the first three weeks of the 2012 season.
The league's image has certainly taken a hit. Bad calls by the replacement referees have clearly influenced the final outcomes of a number of the games played to date. Using these inferior referees clearly demonstrates the NFL owners and league commissioner Roger Goodell's willingness to put an inferior product on the field, all over a $3 million fight with the NFL Referees Association—pocket change for the $10 billion industry, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The issue came to a head on Monday, Sept. 24, when in the final seconds of a nationally televised game, replacement referees first disagreed about a catch in the end zone, then mistakenly awarded a game-winning touchdown to the Seattle Seahawks (the NFL stated on Tuesday that the referees had erred on the play).
For all the screaming headlines and condemnatory tweets about the NFL's PR problems, what will the effect be on it's bottom line if it moves forward with these replacement referees? Viewers may be questioning the game's integrity, sure, but that doesn't mean that they will stop watching any time soon.
According to The New York Times, a person briefed on the negotiations said Tuesday that NFL team owners were dug in and resistant to more compromise, so the saga will continue, for now. And, as long as the actual games continue too, the NFL may be able to endure bad press that no other brand could.
What's your take? Is the strike going to effect the way you feel about the NFL? Will it keep you from attending games? Will it stop you from watching on TV? Will it make you decide not to buy NFL merchandize? Let us know.
Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg