A Fox Sports advertising campaign deriding the Knicks as "HOPELESS"—as well as "HOPEFUL"—is now being removed from NYC subway cars after Knicks owner James Dolan reportedly called Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox, to complain.
The campaign, which was plastered on the exterior and interior of a Times Square shuttle train, was designed to provoke sports fans. According to the NY Times, "The advertisements focused on hot-button sports issues, such as N.B.A. superteams, the trade of Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry and whether Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., known for end zone antics, is a distraction for the team."
One train car was completely devoted to the Knicks: Half the car had quotes and statements about the Knicks' awfulness—"Things are looking bleak. They are the laughing stock of the NBA. They stink and they're gonna stink for a while. —Nick Wright" and "Sit here if you blame James Dolan"—while the other side was more optimistic, "The Knicks are and will always be the premier NBA franchise" or:
Dolan was reportedly "furious" about the ads and let Murdoch know about it, according to SNY: "'They are “dealing with a s-tstorm internally at Fox,' the source said. 'If you post something like this you have to expect Dolan’s wrath.'"
A spokeswoman for Outfront Media, which handles advertising for the MTA, told the NY Times, "To my knowledge, they wanted to start a conversation, and I think it got bigger and they are taking it down." In 2015, Amazon wrapped the Times Square shuttle in ads for its dystopian "What if the Nazis won?" drama Man in the High Castle, featuring Nazi insignias; the ads were removed days later, after a backlash.
"Today, FS1 featured statements on a New York City subway car intended to reflect the distinct emotions and opinions of passionate sports fans," Fox said in a statement about the ad campaign. "We regret the tone and are removing the content in its entirety."