SBD/Issue 237/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Cut Off: ESPN Reportedly Will Block Jenn Brown-Icehouse Deal

Brown Had Signed To Be The
Face Of Icehouse Through '11

MillerCoors Dir of Media Relations Julian Green indicated that ESPN "has decided to prohibit" reporter Jenn Brown from serving as a spokesperson for the brewer's Icehouse brand, according to Rich Rovito of the BUSINESS JOURNAL OF MILWAUKEE. Green said, "We have learned from sources at ESPN that the agreement is not moving forward as planned." Green did note, however, that MillerCoors "hasn’t received official word from Brown or her agent pertaining to the status of the deal, which ESPN initially approved." He added, "Until we hear from Brown or her agent, we believe we still have an approved deal." Rovito notes MillerCoors last week announced that it has hired Brown, primarily a college football and basketball reporter for ESPN, "to serve as the 'face and voice' of the Icehouse brand by appearing" in promotional and advertising programs through December '11. Green said that ESPN "historically has allowed its on-air employees to enter into outside deals provided they are approved by the network." He declined to comment on why ESPN "changed its mind about Brown's deal," and the network did not comment on the matter (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/24).

A BAD IDEA: SI.com's Richard Deitsch yesterday wrote of Brown’s agreement with Icehouse, "If you are serious about making a name for yourself in newsgathering, you politely turn down this fame and money grab because students are involved." ESPN does not have "a formal policy regarding its talent endorsing commercial products," and the network "has long said that it evaluates each of the requests on an individual basis and makes a determination on it." An ESPN spokesperson prior to today’s announcement said, "While this request was approved, we are reviewing the matter internally." Deitsch: "The fact that ESPN is reviewing the matter is interesting, and the network would be wise to ask Brown to politely decline it" (SI.com, 8/23). USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand noted ESPN announcers “have been beer endorsers” in the past, but “what's different about ESPN's Jenn Brown … is that she's specifically a reporter for college football and basketball” (USA TODAY, 8/23).

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