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The NFL will no longer allow virtual on-field advertisements during preseason game broadcasts, citing they have become an increasing distraction for viewers.
The new policy appears to have been at least partly inspired by a "Slap Ya Mama" promotion that pops up frequently during New Orleans Saints broadcasts on Cox Sports Television.
The "Slap Ya Mama" ads are among the biggest and brightest examples of the virtual signs being projected more frequently during local preseason broadcasts around the league. They feature a big red rectangle covering the entire red zone whenever the team reaches the opposing 20-yard line.
Representatives of the Louisiana-based Cajun food products company said in a news release that they were informed by Cox Media Louisiana that the ads were being pulled due to concerns about the name "in light of the domestic violence issues facing the NFL."
NFL spokesperson Joanna Hunter said the league had no comment on that claim. Instead, she commented in general terms about the league's change in policy saying, "The increasing presence of virtual signage in locally produced preseason games can detract from telecasts and create a less desirable viewing experience for fans. Virtual signage has always been prohibited during regular and postseason games."
The league said the policy change applied to 11 teams whose broadcasts included the use of virtual adds.
The NFL did not specifically identify the "Slap Ya Mama" brand of Louisiana-based Cajun food products in a memorandum sent to teams explaining the new policy earlier this week. However, one of several factors listed for making the change was that, "Certain advertisers and brands are not consistent with League standards and messaging."
The memo also states that such advertisements have become "more commonplace and more intrusive" and that traditionally-local broadcasts are now seen more often on a national basis through rebroadcasts or highlights. The policy change applies to the remainder of this preseason and will be reviewed going forward.
Domestic violence has become a prominent issue in the NFL in recent months, with the most high-profile case leading to the suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. The Ravens are scheduled to play in the Saints' next home game televised by CST on Thursday.
"We've been doing this for three years with no complaints. People who know our brand 'get it.' But all of a sudden, after three years, the NFL doesn't,'" said Jack D. Walker, vice president of the brand's parent company, Walker & Sons, Inc., in the news release. "We are really shaking our heads over this one! We're fun loving and enjoy great tasting food. We also love football, especially Saints football! Maybe they just don't understand our culture. What a shame!"
Walker also explained that the "Slap Ya Mama" phrase "refers to a loving slap on the back and a kiss on the cheek to your mama as a thank you for preparing another great tasting dish."