Retouched CoverGirl Ad Calls Out Domestic Violence in NFL


The retouched CoverGirl for NFL ad. 

As one of the official sponsors of the NFL, CoverGirl created football-inspired makeup looks for every team, advertised with the slogan “Get Your Game Face On.” This weekend, the purple smoky eye inspired by the Baltimore Ravens got an unfortunate makeover. In the wake of the video revealing the team’s running back Ray Rice violently abusing his then-fiance, an airbrushed version showing the CoverGirl model with a now black and blue eye has gone viral. On top of its visual impact, it takes to task the poor way in which the NFL, and more specifically commissioner Roger Goodell, has addressed the issue of domestic violence. After thousands of tweets and Facebook shares this weekend, the original campaign image was retouched by journalist Adele Stan, to include a black eye and a new message written across the top: “Boycott CoverGirl Official Sponsor of the NFL" until Roger Goodell is gone.” Trending hashtags this weekend included #GoodellMustGo and #BoycotttheNFL.

Adele Stan’s version with a new campaign message across the top.

Stan herself tweeted at CoverGirl spokeswomen Katy Perry, Queen Latifah, Sofia Vergara, and Pink to push the cosmetics brand to take a stance on the issue. While other NFL sponsors like PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch have not come under scrutiny yet in the way CoverGirl has, it’s been noted that makeup is often used by domestic violence victims to hide bruises. The main issue, according to consumers, is that brands are supporting the NFL which so clearly ignores and minimizes this serious issue. On September 8, TMZ released the video of Ray Rice knocking out his wife (then fiancée) Janay in an elevator and the NFL claimed they had never seen the footage before. But two days later on September 10, the AP reported that a law enforcement official sent the tape to the NFL way back in April. While Rice has been indefinitely suspended from playing, there is no defined code of conduct in the NFL, and many instances have been drastically mishandled. As USA Today notes, of the 84 arrests between 2000 and 2013 for domestic violence, no player received more than a one-game suspension.

CoverGirl released this statement on Facebook Monday evening: “As a brand that has always supported women and stood for female empowerment, COVERGIRL believes domestic violence is completely unacceptable. We developed our NFL program to celebrate the more than 80 million female football fans. In light of recent events, we have encouraged the NFL to take swift action on their path forward to address the issue of domestic violence.” But it’s not enough for consumers, who point out that the Radisson hotel chain recently pulled their sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings. Some warn that CoverGirl should immediately drop their sponsorship of the NFL before consumers boycott their products.

Many people also took to Twitter to voice their opinions on the retouched ads and CoverGirl’s response:

@casunprincess Wow. @COVERGIRL that is 100% tone deaf response 2 @nfl callous acceptance of domestic abuse. #GoodellMustGo

@Sil_Lai The symbolism behind @COVERGIRL pulling their @nfl support is HUGE. Makeup is used to cover bruises from #domesticviolence #GoodellMustGo

@paulakraberhunt @addiestan @COVERGIRL It was so bad it would have been less insulting for them to stay silent! #GoodellMustGo

@meret9 Its sad @COVERGIRL hasn't pulled sponsorship. Do you know your demographic? #GoodellMustGo

@myndhunter0603 @COVERGIRL where is your consumer loyalty that you would choose to continue your association with the NFL? #BoycottCovergirl

@appelzismypal @COVERGIRL I've used your products for over 15yrs but I won't buy them again as long as you sponsor the #NFL. #BoycottCoverGirl

CoverGirl’s Game Face ads and website are still currently up and running. Yahoo Beauty reached out for further comment, but have not heard back at press time. While the brand seem intent on keeping their stance and campaign intact, further pressure from consumers can lead to change, so let us know where you stand on the NFL and support from their sponsors in the comments section below.