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NFL Nixes ED Sponsors, Not Ads

The NFL says it will no longer accept sponsorships from the erectile dysfunction category--including Levitra and Cialis--but that does not mean you won't see adds for those products in NFL games, including the Super Bowl.

The league has decided not to renew its sponsorship deal with Levitra--the three-year, $18.5 million agreement expired in March of this year--and will not make any other sponsorship deals in the ad category, according to the league.

A sponsorship is where the advertiser gets to use the NFL logo in ads, promos and contests. The NFL does not control the ads in its broadcast partners, says spokesman Brian McCarthy, with the exception of gambling ads, which it prohibits.

McCarthy says the decision on ED sponsorship stemmed from a change in the focus of  the advertising over the past three years. When the Levitra deal was first signed, he says, "it was more of a men's health initiative. But the category over the course of the last three years has gone into more of a lifestyle and performance direction that we were not comfortable with."

McCarthy says the league has not seen the Super Bowl ads from its sponsors--which the league does review since its logo goes on them--but does not anticipate any problems with those.

Last year, Anheuser-Busch voluntarily withdrew a spot making fun of the Janet Jackson incident after reviewing it with the league beforehand.
Fox last year pulled the second airing of a suggestive Super Bowl spot for domain-registration company, although NFL executives also registered their concern with the spot following its initial, and only, airing in the game.

According to McCarthy, has said it is currently negotiating with ABC to buy another Super Bowl spot.