Nike, FedEx Among Brands Halting Support of Washington Redskinsby Andersen Pickard July 3, 2020 0 comments
The Washington Redskins have faced criticism regarding their name for quite some time. Although the situation has remained fluid for years, it appears that a turning point has been reached as a couple of almighty sponsors are working to put the team in a critical situation.
According to AdWeek’s Mary Emily O’Hara, investors with FedEx, Nike, and PepsiCo have all agreed to end relationships with the team and owner Dan Snyder. They are also expected to urge other sponsors to do the same. The backlash, focused around the disrespect the name “Redskins” has on Native Americans, seems to have been ignited and increased again following the months after various protests and the never-ending fight for equality.
Combined, the 87 main investors in the team are worth more than $600 billion. They are using their value as leverage in an attempt to implement change.
FedEx spent over $200 million to obtain naming rights to the Redskins’ stadium through 2025. Company CEO Frederick Smith owns a minority stake in the Redskins franchise and has worked closely with Snyder over the years.
On Thursday, FedEx released the following statement:
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.”
In a letter to PepsiCo asking them to halt their support of the team, FedEx praised the major food brand for their ongoing social justice advocacy and awareness of modern-day events, including their decision to change the name and image of Aunt Jemima maple syrup. The shipping giant reminded PepsiCo that their beliefs are in the right place and ending their relationship with Washington’s football team would align with their goals as the NFL’s leading food company.
Nike was the third major brand to condemn the Redskins’ ownership staff. Their stance was more quiet and simple but will still have an incredible impact on the team and league. By removing all Redskins merchandise from their online catalog, they are taking another step towards putting the team in a financial burden that can only be escaped by changing their identity. Although it could take a while for the impact of this to be felt in the pockets of ownership, Nike is among the top sports merchandise brands and is making an incredible statement.
A search for “Redskins” on Nike.com resulted in an error message that suggested the brand pulled all team merchandise from its online catalog.
This is not the first time Nike has been a strong advocate for equality and rights. They backed Colin Kaepernick despite backlash from the public, and have consistently endorsed and supported athletes who have the odds stacked against them, whether it be on account of their sexuality, gender, race, or even disability.
Just a handful of weeks ago, in May, they ran a powerful advertisement with a black background and white font that made their message truly stand out.
It remains to be seen whether or not the Redskins make a decision to change their name. While it is important to remember that teams cannot survive without adequate sponsorship from big brands, it also must be noted that Dan Snyder once vowed he would never alter his team’s identity.
“We will never change the name of the team,” Snyder told USA TODAY Sports back in 2013. “As a lifelong Redskins fan, and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it’s all about and what it means, so we feel pretty fortunate to be just working on next season.”
Snyder doubled down moments later:
“We’ll never change the name,” he said. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”
It remains to be seen whether or not Snyder’s statement from seven years ago holds true in a time where he faces backlash from fans and major sponsors. All in all, there’s a challenging situation going on in the capital of the United States and it could be a while before a solution is achieved.