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Following an NFL Sunday filled with State Farm ads while Aaron Rodgers was sidelined in the NFL's COVID-19 protocols, the insurance company was compelled on Monday to address its stance on one of its most visible and suddenly controversial pitchmen.
As expected, State Farm did its best to play things straight down the middle. In a statement provided to USA Today's Christine Brennan, State Farm announced that it's standing by Rodgers if even if it doesn't necessarily agree with his statements. It also encouraged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. But if you choose not to, State Farm thinks that's also fine.
"Aaron Rodgers has been a great ambassador for our company for much of the past decade," the statement reads. "We don’t support some of the statements that he has made, but we respect his right to have his own personal point of view.
"We recognize our customers, employees, agents and brand ambassadors come from all walks of life, with differing viewpoints on many issues. Our mission at State Farm is to support safer, stronger communities. To that end, we encourage vaccinations, but respect everyone’s right to make a choice based on their personal circumstances.”
State Farm insures clients who believe in vaccine science and misinformation alike, so it should come as no surprise that it took its best shot at not taking a stand one way or another. But while it's publicly taking the middle ground, its advertising decisions over the weekend suggest that it's taking a step back from Rodgers. For now, at least.
Rodgers rate mostly sidelined on Sunday
Brennan cited Apex Marketing Group in noting that Rodgers was only slightly more active in State Farm ads on Sunday than he was on the football field. Per the report, Rodgers appeared in 1.5% of the nearly 400 ads State Farm ran on Sunday, down from 25% the previous two Sundays. The data suggests that Patrick Mahomes, whose Chiefs beat Rodgers' Packers on Sunday, was also getting more play during ad breaks.
State Farm's stance arrives after a weekend of pointed criticism aimed at Rodgers for his peddling of vaccine misinformation in an effort to explain his stance to not be vaccinated. He also took heat for misleading the public on his status during the preseason, prompting Hall of Fame quarterback and Fox analyst Terry Bradshaw to declare that Rodgers "lied to everyone."
For now, Rodgers is toxic in circles that advocate for vaccine science and public health. How he'll be received as time wears on and he presumably leads the Packers back to their winning ways is yet to be seen. In the meantime, State Farm's decided not to take a stand.