Slap Ya Mama says NFL banned its Saints red zone ads amidst domestic violence concerns

Cox Sports Television has told the Cajun food products company Slap Ya Mama that its in-game red zone promotion seen recently during broadcasts of Saints preseason contests at St. Louis on Aug. 8 and against Tennessee on Aug. 15 will be canceled due to concerns over the group’s name, according to a news release from Slap Ya Mama on Saturday.

Furthermore, the NFL is prohibiting all virtual signage from remaining preseason games.

Slap Ya Mama’s communique said the company’s advertising representative — Walker & Sons Inc. — received an email from Cox Media Louisiana Director of Sales Marc Leunissen informing them that “in light of the domestic violence issues facing the NFL, (the league) instructed CST (to) pull the Slap Ya Mama logo from our enhancements in the last (preseason) game,” which is Thursday in New Orleans against Baltimore. Walker & Sons says it believes the NFL told Cox Media to do this Monday.

Prior to Saturday’s news, Baltimore running back Ray Rice received a two-game suspension in the wake of a Feb. 15 arrest on accusations that he attacked and knocked out then-fiancĂ©e Janay Palmer during an argument at an Atlantic City hotel. Video footage that appeared online showed Rice dragging Palmer out of an elevator as she was apparently unconscious. Palmer — who was also arrested as a result of the row in Atlantic City — is now married to Rice.

Regardless, on Thursday, the NFL’s office sent a memo to all league teams announcing that effective immediately and for the rest of the preseason Commissioner Roger Goodell had banned all virtual signage such as the Slap Ya Mama promotion, which had been coming on screen whenever the ball first got within 20 yards of the end zone in the Saints’ exhibitions on Cox Sports Television.

A copy of the memo provided by Slap Ya Mama made no mention of any concerns over domestic violence issues. It mentioned that “certain advertisers and brands were not consistent with NFL standards and messaging.” It said some “virtual signage can detract from the game telecast and create a less desirable viewing experience for fans watching.”

And it talked about how “the league does not permit virtual signage in national game telecasts, and its presence in local preseason telecasts, combined with those games’ increased national exposure, creates both a widening standards gap between the league’s national broadcast partners and preseason telecast stations and a resulting variance in quality.”

NFL Media Chief Operating Officer Brian Rolapp and NFL Films Chief Operating Officer Howard Katz signed the memo.

In a statement, Walker & Sons Inc.’s vice president of marketing said, “We are really shaking our heads over this one!”

“We’ve been doing this for three years with no complaints,” Jack D. Walker said. “People who know our brand ‘get it,’ but all of a sudden, after three years, the NFL doesn’t.”

Walker’s statement explained that “Slap Ya Mama” refers to “a loving slap on the back and a kiss on the cheek to your mama as a thank you for preparing another great tasting dish.”

It said Slap Ya Mama Cajun Products is owned by Jennifer Walker, of Ville Platte, and is managed by her sons, Jack and Joe. Their father, Anthony “T.W.” Walker, created the seasoning, and the name was chosen because it represented the family’s food and culture.

Walker said the NFL’s decision ruined what is Slap Ya Mama’s biggest advertising commitment of the year. Feedback from customers suggested it was popular, he said in his statement.