It was a week ago when Christopher Baxter broke the news that the the Department of Defense (read: your tax money) has been writing some pretty hefty checks to some of the NFL teams. Of course this grabbed everyone’s attention in the Packer’s little corner of the world.
As Baxter reported, the Green Bay Packers have received $600,000 since 2012.
And this is where some lose their minds.
Everyone out there gets that warm fuzzy when a team unfurls the 100 yard long American flag, honors a living vet and his/her family on the field and turns the entire stadium into an American flag with the help of colored bits of cardboard sitting at each seat complete with instructions. Yet for some, these acts seem a little less homespun and genuine now knowing that there was money given for such placements.
CheeseheadTV’s Aaron Nagler reached out to Packers’ PR director Aaron Popkey recently about how these funds are being sent, and Popkey replied with the following:
The Packers’ partnership with the Wisconsin National Guard is similar to our other partnerships in that it includes traditional marketing aspects designed to address its objectives, which are recruiting, retention and awareness. It featured advertising on TundraVision, stadium signage and Packers.com, as well as sponsorship of other programs and events such as the high school coach of the week, a job fair for veterans and a continuing medical education program. Our partnership arrangement does not simply focus on one specific event, but is comprised of many different features.
In other words, the Wisconsin National Guard via the Department of Defense has paid for product placement at Lambeau Field, on Packers.com, and other assorted Packers, Inc. stuff.
Same as the Sprinkler Guy here at Lambeau Field (La La La Lambeau!)
And the cute little Nicolet Waterboy/Watergirl of the Game.
And the Miller Lite Race to the Cooler, the giant Kraft Macaroni outside the stadium, and the Oneida Nation ad that shows every game. The list is pretty huge. Many corporations pay top dollar to advertise to the nearly 80,000 sitting in the stands at each home game.
I find it a little odd that people are shocked by it. Who do you think paid for those red, white and blue cards the crowd held up that formed a flag and spelled out “Thank You Veterans”? Or the signage for the National Guard inside the stadium?
If you look at what Popkey said, yes, some of it went to advertising fees, but that money was turned around and used for community outreach. Not exactly a scandalous money grab if you ask me.
I’m sorry, but I can’t find a reason to be outraged. Like or not, the military in the United States is a business. A gazillion dollar (actually it’s a $495.6 Billion per year) business, complete with it’s own PR and marketing department, because new recruits don’t grow on trees in the Pentagon’s proverbial front yard. Then there’s the fact that people don’t like war, they are in the war business, and a little PR and goodwill can go a long way with this type of positive publicity.
And what better place to recruit than a captive audience where chances are there are plenty of fit, energetic young adults in their recruitment demographic? Gauging by how wild the crowd goes every time a fighter jet used to fly overhead or when that veteran’s face is splashed across the TundraVision, it appears the DOD knows exactly who that demographic is.
Yes, I get it. You, me and even my mom that doesn’t give two rips about football are paying for this. Everyone one of those 6 million dollars came from us tax payers. But even if you factor all of that money paid out to the NFL, it is still just a drop in the ocean of the DOD’s operating budget. Like a thousandth of a percent. $6 Million is pocket change compared to the many fighter jets that run in the hundreds of millions each. Yes, each.
Don’t worry, I fully understand that the federal government has cornered the market on ridiculous boondoggles. There’s the $30 Million spent to fund Pakistani mango farmers. Say that out loud and try not to cringe and/or laugh. Then there’s the $17.5 Million in tax exemptions to Nevada brothels and the $1.9 Million in “lifestyle lessons” for Senate staffers (read: minions.)
The US Military has a long history of partnering with professional sports either for recruitment of enlistees or recruitment of money to fund wars. During World War II, there was the War Bond Tour with soldiers such as Medal of Honor recipient John Basilone that criss-crossed the country to sell War Bonds to fund the ongoing conflicts in Europe and the Pacific. Soldier Field in Chicago was one of the stopping points. Perhaps it was the nationalist warm fuzzy of the era, but no one seemed to bat an eye at that sports and war machine partnership.
But at the end of the day, I can’t get that too bent out of shape or feel that ill-at-ease over the DOD’s recruitment and marketing budget that involves the NFL. It doesn’t diminish the genuine applause the crowd gives the vets standing on the field in the Salute to Services. It’s still fun to turn the stadium into a giant flag. No one sold their soul to do it.
It’s not the first time the military has meshed with sports, and it won’t be the last.--------------