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Packers defend sponsorship deals with the military

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers organization defended its sponsorship deal with the Wisconsin National Guard following recent criticism of such deals from a U.S. senator who singled out the New York Jets.

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona criticized the Jets for accepting money from the New Jersey National Guard for military appreciation events and failing to disclose that they were sponsored. He also criticized the Department of Defense for using taxpayer money to enter into marketing agreements with any entity, Press-Gazette Media (http://gbpg.net/1zXBcOC ) reported.

The Packers received more than $833,000 from the National Guard over a five-year period from 2009 to 2014, according to federal reports.

The Wisconsin National Guard has a longstanding relationship with the Packers and entered into a marketing campaign with the team to aid in recruitment, retention and awareness of Guard activities, said Maj. Paul Rickert, director of public affairs for the Wisconsin National Guard.

“As part of the program … some was recruiting with appearances by military members,” he said. “To say the bulk of that cost was to have members appear would not be accurate.”

Sponsors’ names and logos may be included on programs, signs, handouts, video boards and announcements, said Packers spokesman Aaron Popkey.

“That’s the whole nature of having a partnership,” Popkey said. “It’s clear these elements have a sponsor when they do have a sponsor.”

The team’s deals with the Wisconsin National Guard included advertising on the stadium’s video board, signs and website, according to the Packers. The Guard has sponsored programs such as high school coach of the week, a job fair for veterans and an ongoing medical education program.

“The Packers’ partnership with the Wisconsin National Guard is similar to our other partnerships in that it includes traditional marketing aspects designed to address its objectives …,” Popkey said. “We think we are pretty good at working with groups to design programs that meet their objectives.”

But not all activities involving military organizations are sponsored, he said, adding the some unsponsored events are private.

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Information from: Press-Gazette Media, http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com

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