A popular donut chain in York County, Pennsylvania made headlines by hosting a billboard that comments on the NFL national anthem protests.
The Maple Donuts billboard reads, “Maple Donuts takes a stand not a knee.” Locals and social media users have had varying reactions to the message that refers to the phenomena of kneeling during the national anthem. Taking a knee has become a form of protest before NFL games and by players in other sports leagues that are copying the trend.
— WPMT FOX43 (@fox43) October 22, 2017
“It just went right in line with our company values,” said Jim Nelson, a manager for Maple Donuts, when explaining the billboard ad to Fox 43. He says the statement on the board is “100 percent patriotic.”
According to the York Daily Record, Maple Donuts owner Charlie Burnside’s grandfather came to America from Sicily. When Burnside was young, his father instilled in him a deep appreciation of both his Italian homeland and his adopted country. The patriotic statement goes along with the American flags that surround the store.
“He takes advantage of current events and incorporates it with his advertising, and he’s done some really cool things, and you can’t blame him for that. That’s good business, I think,” said local business owner Joe Oaster, when talking about Burnside.
I hope they sell a LOT of donuts! LOOKING GOOD MAPLE!!!!!
— Denyse Lake??? (@DenyseLake) October 23, 2017
The rest of the message on the electronic billboard reads, “Every Football Sunday We Will Have Red, White & Blue Donuts.”
This isn’t the first time Maple Donuts has incorporated current events into its business advertising. Before former football player and convicted criminal O.J. Simpson was released from prison, the franchise offered free juice in its “O.J. Is Free” campaign. It was the third time the company had a promotion related to O.J. Simpson. Maple Donuts also started offering a cherry-filled, vanilla cream-topped, Donald Trump themed doughnut after his 2016 election win.
The NFL national anthem protest issue has yet to be fully resolved. Since seeing the billboard message, some feel its a show of support for racism, which some of the players have said is the reason for the protests. Others don’t make a connection between the two issues, and see national anthem protests as a slight to the military and the nation. Regardless, the protests continue to cut into profits and ratings, as people who don’t agree with the athletes have increasingly stopped following pro football.