Pittsburgh, PA — An agreement between GNC and Fox Network to broadcast a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl was declined by the NFL on January 30th, just 6 days before the Super Bowl. Now, the supplement retailer has said they are prepared to fight, claiming “significant economic and reputational damages, lost opportunities, and consequential damages”
GNC was interested in reestablishing their brand from recent issues concerning the legality of their products, but the NFL also had previous troubles with the brand, making it a conflict of interest for the league.
“GNC was proud and excited to launch our Courage to Change campaign during the Super Bowl, one of the biggest platforms of the year,” said a statement from Jeff Hennion, GNC’s executive vice president, chief marketing & e-commerce officer. “However, only six days prior, and after two approval processes, Fox Broadcasting informed us that our company and our message of inspirational true stories was not permitted to air due to NFL policy. In turn, GNC has retained legal counsel and is in the process of preparing a formal complaint with Fox Broadcasting Company.”
NFL players have a history of being suspended due to performance-enhancing substances that GNC sells. In 2013 alone, DeMarcus Love and Jarvis Jenkins were suspended for taking banned substances from GNC, leading the NFL to cancel the agreement of the GNC commercial. GNC is banned under the NFL and the player’s union because of these performance-enhancing substances, therefore promoting a commercial broadcast to over 100 million people was seen as counteractive to the initial ban.
Hennion informed USA Today of the NFL banned substances sold at GNC stores: DHEA (a steroid hormone), Synephrine, and Octopomine — both stimulants — and claimed that less than 3% of the products sold at GNC contain these substances.
GNC’s efforts in rebranding through a Super Bowl commercial were also due to legal troubles with the federal government. GNC paid the federal government $2.25 million for issues related to misbranded supplements, according to USA Today. “The decision to make the substantial investment in Super Bowl advertising and promotions reflects our commitment to raise awareness of the One New GNC and invite consumers back into our stores,” said Bob Moran, GNC’s interim CEO.
Though the would-be GNC commercial’s focus wasn’t on a specific product or brand, but more on a motivational theme, the ban completely disengages them from the NFL just as gambling, tobacco products, and nude performers are disengaged.