2017 will not, in fact, mark the Super Bowl debut of vitamin and supplements brand GNC after the NFL told broadcaster Fox “[GNC] may not air in Super Bowl or any NFL programming.”
That’s according to NFL Vice President of Communications Brian McCarthy, who said the message “was communicated weeks ago” and “is consistent with our policies that prohibit the advertising of supplements.”
Indeed, the decision was reportedly a result of a USA Today story that noted NFL players cannot endorse GNC because it sells NFL-banned substances in its supplements.
Fox declined comment.
“While we are disappointed by Fox Sports/NFL’s late-in-the-game decision to exclude our ad from the Super Bowl, we continue to be excited about the campaign. The ad will run in numerous media outlets and reach millions of people with genuine and inspiring stories of the courage to change,” said Jeff Hennion, chief marketing and e-commerce officer of GNC, in a statement. “The NFL is one of many sports governing bodies, all with specific and widely varying policies. At GNC, we follow FDA regulations and our own strict standards to ensure customers know what’s in our products and that they are safe and of the highest quality.”
A GNC rep declined further comment.
USA Today said it contacted the NFL players union last week, which prompted the latter to write the NFL to voice concerns about the conflict the ad posed.
That’s because GNC is listed under prohibited companies on a memo from the NFL and the players union that warns players not to endorse or have a business relationship with GNC because it has been “associated with the production, manufacture or distribution of NFL-banned substances,” USA Today said.
Hennion told USA Today GNC products contain two substances banned by the NFL -- anabolic agent DHEA and the stimulant synephrine -- out of more than 100 substances banned by the league and 3% of the products sold by GNC contain the banned substances.