While the Ravens publicly are addressing how the franchise is perceived, behind-the-scenes work has focused on salvaging relationships with team sponsors. The organization has taken a particular interest in Verizon, specifically referencing the sponsors’ Hopeline program, in which returned phones are donated to groups that focus on domestic violence prevention.
This is an opportunity for the team to go beyond saying sorry by taking steps to bring about actual change. The Ravens have yet to lose a sponsor, and may not lose any, unless it is proven that they purposely misled the public. This is in contrast to the Vikings, which lost Radisson after the Adrian Peterson allegations. By showing contrition and further involving the franchise in causes supporting victims of domestic violence, the Ravens are attempting to strengthen the relationships with its sponsors.
Those relationships are extremely important to the Ravens’ bottom line. The Ravens have historically received a substantial portion of their revenue from sponsors such as M&T Bank, Southwest Airlines and Under Armour. As we saw with the Donald Sterling incident, change is forced when sponsors start pulling out of deals. Therefore, the Ravens are wise to use a two-pronged approach in trying to maintain these sponsor relationships and rebuild trust with fans.
There is still more to do, and the team’s $600,000 donation to the House of Ruth, a center for helping victims of domestic violence, also helps. The Ravens must continue to mend fences through their actions.
Michael Colangelo is Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute and Senior Editor of The Fields of Green.