Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Protesters Leverage NFL to Fight Pipeline

Protesters leverage NFL to fight pipeline


Nearly every televised home game this season, the color commentators for Minnesota Vikings games have commented on the palatial new stadium the Vikings enjoyed this year. The stadium is a true conversation piece, but that’s not what had people talking at a recent game.

Protestors trying to drum up support for action against the Dakota Access oil pipeline ascended a truss connected to the roof of US Bank Stadium during the week 17 match against the Chicago Bears.


The game was somewhat forgettable, even for a matchup between division football rivals. But, what the protestors did next wasn’t.

They unfurled a huge banner for all in the stadium, as well as those watching at home, to see. Play on the field never stopped, but you can bet some quick-thinking fans grabbed some pics and video of the protestors. Before the game was over, the story was all over the internet. While the protesters were arrested for trespassing by the Minneapolis PD, the message was out there, and it was spreading like wildfire on social media.

Meanwhile, since they really weren’t causing much of a disturbance and none of the cops were too eager to scale the rafters, they let the couple stay up on their perch and waited to arrest them until they came down. So, they watched the rest of the game from some of the “best” seats in the house while their message continued to make the rotation on TV, Twitter, and Facebook.

While fans seated under the pair, who were hanging from the rafters at this point, were evacuated Just In Case, there was some sympathy among Viking Nation for the protesters, one of whom sported a familiar Favre jersey.

The protesters chose their target and their message pretty well. There was no general message against the pipeline. The message implored US Bank, the stadium’s title sponsor, to divest its holdings in the controversial billion-dollar pipeline. So, knowing the issue would put them and their message in the headlines, the couple hung out and let US Bank go on the hot seat.

Now, the likelihood of that bank – or any other – divesting a massive profit interest in any deal because of a stunt like this is very low. However, now those who are concerned about the issue have (another) very specific target to aim at. While one banner may not concern the bank, an endless torrent of negative publicity and public uproar could trigger a PR crisis.

While the bank’s current “no comment” on the issue is the right move, that could change if this stunt goes from Today’s Fleeting Social Media Trend to an actual point of contention … though this seems increasingly unlikely.


Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.

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