HOUSTON, Texas – In December, GNC announced it would advertise during the Super Bowl for the first time in the company’s history.
But the nutrition and dietary supplement retailer’s 30-second ad won’t air during the big game after all after the NFL rejected it.
The commercial didn’t contain any controversial content, according to USA Today, but GNC is listed under “prohibited companies” on a memo from the NFL and players union warning players not to endorse GNC.
Players are discouraged from having a business relationship with the retailer because, according to the memo, GNC has been “associated with the production, manufacture or distribution of NFL banned substances.”
The company sells products containing two of 162 substances banned by the league, although company officials said those products make up a small percentage of sales.
A 30-second for the Super Bowl will cost about $5 million this year. GNC said it was “blindsided” by the NFL’s decision to reject the ad.
Jeff Hennion, GNC’s executive vice president, told USA Today that the company submitted the spot to Fox Thursday. The network cleared it. On Friday, Hennion learned there was an “issue” with a logo in the commercial. He and his staff worked up alternatives over the weekend.
On Monday, Hennion said GNC learned the league had rejected the ad outright. He said the commercial didn’t reference any specific products and had a motivational theme.
The company hoped the Super Bowl ad would help it relaunch its brand. The NFL said rejection of the commercial is consistent with its policies prohibiting advertisements of supplements.