Conservative group tries to 'shame' MLB for Georgia boycott with new ads


Consumers' Research, a conservative group which previously targeted Nike and Coca-Cola, is taking aim at the MLB commissioner for moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta after Georgia passed its recent voter suppression law.

A conservative group on Thursday announced a seven-figure ad campaign targeting Major League Baseball and the events platform Ticketmaster, accusing them of "playing woke politics" by speaking out against Georgia's recent racist voter suppression law.

The ads mark the latest iteration in a self-described "name and shame" campaign orchestrated by Consumers' Research, a group with close ties to conservative politics, according to the Center for Media and Democracy.

"MLB decided to play politics instead of ball, moving the All-Star game from Atlanta and parroting dishonest and partisan talking points, resulting in millions of dollars lost for many hardworking Americans," Consumers' Research executive director Will Hild said in a press release.

The campaign comes just days before the MLB All-Star Game, set to take place on Tuesday, July 13. Originally planned for Atlanta, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced in April that the 2021 game and MLB draft would be moved after a backlash to Georgia Republicans' passage of a law that vastly undercuts voting rights in the state.

Multiple analyses of the law have found it disproportionately impacts minority voters while preserving GOP control.

The MLB "fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box," Manfred said in an April statement announcing his intent to move the game, a decision President Joe Biden said he supported. It was later announced that the All-Star Game would take place at Denver's Coors Field.

In the ad targeting the MLB, posted to YouTube on Thursday, a narrator attacks Manfred for "parroting dishonest, partisan talking points" and "serving woke politicians."

A second ad similarly attacks Ticketmaster for "going woke," highlighting negative press the company has received due to high service fees and for laying off workers amid the pandemic.

It was not immediately clear why the group chose to target Ticketmaster, which has largely avoided wading into debate over the Georgia law. Ticketmaster's parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, was one of hundreds of companies that signed a joint statement in April condemning attacks on voter rights, such as the voter suppression legislation in Georgia. In 2020, Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino issued a statement to all company employees promising to increase diversity within staffing and across its business, though the promises appear to have been made in the context of nationwide anti-racism protests in the wake of George Floyd's murder earlier that year.

In Thursday's press release, Hild said only that Ticketmaster had been on Consumers' Research's radar for some time.

"Ticketmaster CEO Michael Rapino continued to make over a million dollars last year while the company held three rounds of layoffs, and the Justice Department cracked down on their parent company, Live Nation, with the strongest anti-trust action in decades," Hild said. "... Instead of cozying up to woke politicians on issues they do not understand, they should focus on serving customers better, and competing in the market without committing felonies."

The press release also stated that the "Ticketmaster ad will air at a critical time when music fans are beginning to see increased advertising around concerts and shows."

Representatives for the MLB and Ticketmaster did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the ad buy.

Since the announcement that the All-Star Game would be moved, conservative groups and Republican elected officials have repeatedly hammered the league and the many companies who publicly opposed the Georgia law.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) warned corporations in early April not to "use economic blackmail to spread disinformation," and a conservative business group sued the MLB for its decision to move the game. That effort was rejected by a federal judge in Manhattan last month.

Consumers' Research has previously aired ads targeting such companies as Nike, Coca-Cola, and American Airlines for their opposition to the Georgia law. The group says its new ads targeting the MLB and Ticketmaster are set to air nationally on cable and digital markets, as well as in the local markets where the companies are headquartered.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.