You've probably noticed by now that Bud Light is a major sponsor of the UFC. Their parent company, Anheuser-Busch, has been under some pressure from advocacy groups regarding their sponsorship deal with the the UFC, and decided to publicly rebuke the company for some of the things that UFC fighters have said in the recent past. Advertising Age relays the Anheuser-Busch statement:
"We've communicated to the UFC our displeasure with certain remarks made by some of its fighters, and they have promised to address this. If the incidents continue, we will act," the brewer said in a statement. A-B, which did not elaborate on potential actions, also stated that it "embraces diversity and does not condone insensitive and derogatory comments rooted in ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, etc."
Organizations such as the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence have criticized the UFC repeatedly for the actions of their fighters, and even sent a letter to state assembly members in New York, trying to keep MMA banned in the state. Many incidents are noted in the article, including comments by Quinton Jackson, Rashad Evans, and Joe Rogan.
You can check out the UFC's response after the jump.
The UFC spoke to Advertising Age about the A-B statement, and about the idea that social media sites have been the platform for some of the incidents in question:
"With over 425 athletes on our roster, there have unfortunately been instances where a couple athletes have made insensitive or inappropriate comments. We don't condone this behavior, and in no way is it reflective of the company or its values."
"Unlike most other sports leagues, we encourage our athletes to engage online. It is part of our company culture, and whenever you are at the forefront of a trend or initiative, it comes with its own pitfalls. We will continue to embrace social media while looking for better ways to stay in front of the issues. This includes a mandate for our athletes to attend sensitivity training and a seminar on proper use of social media."
There's a lot more in the article, which is definitely worth checking out for a clearer picture of what is really going on. The article also mentions the backlash the Anheuser-Busch received for their commercial featuring a nude Arianny Celeste and a bunch of strategically-placed limes, amongst other things. While it is true that there have been many, many incidents that involved UFC fighters or employees saying things that could be perceived as homophobic, sexist, or just downright offensive, it seems to me like A-B was forced into responding because of all the outside pressure on them. I guess we'll have to see if the UFC chooses to address things more directly or if A-B will actually act on their threat.