'Woke' MLB, Ticketmaster targeted in $1M ad campaign

Nonprofit Consumers' Resesarch launching ad series targetting Major League Baseball and Ticketmaster

Consumers' Research, an educational nonprofit dedicated to consumer information, on Thursday launched the second phase of its ad campaign targeting corporations over "woke" political narratives.

As part of the second phase of the campaign, the nonprofit is launching a seven-figure ad series targetting Major League Baseball and Ticketmaster.

"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 Thursday statement.

The professional baseball league in April decided to pull the All-Star game out of Atlanta over its objection to Georgia’s new GOP voting law, the Election Integrity Act of 2021. Critics of MLB's decision argue that pulling the game out of the Georgia city could result in $100 million in lost business to the Atlanta area.

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Hild criticized Ticketmaster for going "woke" after its parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, was one of 500 companies and corporate leaders to sign an ad opposing pending voting bills in 47 states from the Black Economic Alliance.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
LYV LIVE NATION ENTERTAINMENT, INC. 86.74 -0.09 -0.10%

He also took aim at the company's service and convenience fees, which raise ticket costs when purchased through the website. A group of Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan in April urging them to investigate Ticketmaster and Live Nation over unfair selling practices.

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"We write in support of strong antitrust enforcement by the Biden Administration, including the live event ticket sales marketplace," members led by Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., wrote. "The evidence is overwhelming that the 2010 merger between the world’s largest concert promoter, Live Nation, and the biggest ticket provider, Ticketmaster, has strangled competition in live entertainment ticketing and harmed consumers and must be revisited."

Hild also noted that Live Nation and Ticketmaster CEO Michael Rapino made about $1.7 million in 2020 despite giving up his salary for two months amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to SEC filings, as Billboard first reported.

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"Ticketmaster also just agreed to pay a [$10 million] criminal fine for hacking their competitors," Hild said, referencing the company's December 2020 agreement to pay a hefty fine for repeatedly hacking the computers of its competitors and unlawfully collecting business information, according to the Justice Department.

"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," Hild said.

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The ads will run through next week during the MLB All-Star game, including its broadcast in Atlanta, on both cable and digital markets. The ads will also target local markets where MLB and Ticketmaster are headquartered.

Consumers' Research in May called out American AirlinesNike and Coca-Cola, saying they have put politicians before their customers, as part of the first phase of its campaign. 

Fox News' Houston Keene contributed to this report.