Vitamins retailer GNC is threatening to sue Fox for rejecting its Super Bowl ad

GNC was barred from appearing in the Super Bowl this year because it sells products that contain substances banned by the NFL. GNCLiveWell/YouTube

Vitamins retailer GNC is threatening to sue Fox after its Super Bowl ad was rejected from broadcast during the big game this year, AdAge first reported.

GNC said Fox initially approved its ad, but the NFL prevented it from airing because some of the retailer’s products contain DHEA, Synephrine, and Octopamine — ingredients which appear in the football league’s banned substances list. GNC said fewer than 3% of its products contain those ingredients.

Jeff Hennion, GNC’s marketing chief, said he only received notice of the ad ban on January 30, just six days before the Super Bowl.

In a statement sent to Business Insider on Friday, Hennion said:

“GNC was proud and excited to launch our Courage to Change campaign during the Super Bowl, one of the biggest platforms of the year. However, only six days prior, and after two approval processes, Fox Broadcasting informed us that our company and our message of inspirational true stories was not permitted to air due to NFL policy. In turn, GNC has retained legal counsel and is in the process of preparing a formal complaint with Fox Broadcasting Company.

“Having the ‘Courage to Change’ can mean many things and our customers exemplify that every day. We strongly support the stories of change represented by the people in our commercial, and we are committed to sharing that as broadly as possible.”

Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

AdAge obtained the legal letter of intent sent from GNC to Fox, which claims the retailer suffered “significant economic and reputational damages, lost opportunities, consequential damages” due to the broadcaster’s decision to rebuff its Super Bowl ad.

“Please consider this letter a notice that further legal action is anticipated and take appropriate steps to preserve all potentially relevant documents and electronically stored information,” the letter reportedly reads.

GNC aruges that Fox did not inform the company that the NFL had to approve its advertisement, which led to it wasting significant time and money in creating the commercial.

Here’s the spot GNC intended to air in the Super Bowl:

GNC had been hoping to use the spot as the centrepiece for its rebrand, under the banner “#CourageToChange.” The ad depicts people who had overcome adversity — a one-armed drummer, protestor, boxer, and firefighter, among others — while the voiceover encouraged to “go chase” change.

The retailer says it will go ahead and run the TV ad elsewhere, alongside a wider multi-media marketing campaign to promote its rebranding efforts.

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