SBD/Issue 238/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Did ESPN Make The Right Call Blocking Jenn Brown-Icehouse Deal?

ESPN Originally Gave Its
Approval To Brown's Deal

ESPN last night confirmed that it has blocked reporter Jenn Brown's partnership with Icehouse beer. ESPN had originally approved Brown's multiyear deal with Icehouse, which called for her to become the new face of the MillerCoors brand. Brown's affiliation with the brewer, however, came into question because she primarily covers college football and basketball for ESPN. An ESPN spokesperson in an e-mail said, "I can confirm the Jenn Brown Icehouse promotion is no longer" (Brian Helfrich, THE DAILY). SPORTS BY BROOKS cited an ESPN source as saying that Brown "was approached by MillerCoors for the deal earlier this year and before proceeding, sought approval" from ESPN officials, who "subsequently approved the deal." Once the deal was announced last week, however, ESPN "upper management previously unaware of the arrangement nixed the association." ESPN sources indicated that network execs were "uncomfortable with having a college football 'reporter' endorse beer" (SPORTSBYBROOKS.com, 8/24). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes ESPN nixing the deal was a "no-brainer" in this case. There no longer is "much hubbub over sportscasters -- such as ESPN's Mike Ditka, who appears in current beer ads -- pushing booze." But Brown "is a reporter -- not one of ESPN's pontificating personalities who also star in ads -- and, more important, she'll largely appear on college football and basketball." Hiestand writes after ESPN "aired its midsummer LeBron James infomercial and now that it has grown so big it can expect to have any one of its on-air personalities in a scandal or legal scrape at any time, it's good to see some things are still out of bounds." For ESPN, which "vets its announcers' outside gigs, it's an especially good time to think responsibly" (USA TODAY, 8/25).

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