SBD/February 17, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Nike Confirms Contracts With Three ESPN "College GameDay" Broadcasters

Howard, Fowler, Corso, Herbstreit all have appeared at Nike events
Nike confirmed that it hired ESPN "College GameDay" hosts Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit to "serve as emcees at Nike events," according to Alan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. Nike Senior Manager for Global Public Affairs Erin Dobson said that Fowler, Corso and Herbstreit “are the only broadcasters with whom the company has such a relationship.” Dobson in an e-mail said, "We use them to M.C. events. They are savvy and knowledgeable about sport and are talented presenters." Dobson added that Nike “produces hundreds of events a year.” Brettman notes one such event “occurred last December at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, to introduce a line of Nike football products,” with the net's Desmond Howard serving as emcee. Football HOFer and CBS’ Dan Fouts also served as emcee last month at a Nike-sponsored event in Scottsdale, Ariz. Dobson said that Corso, Fowler and Herbstreit “are the only broadcasters with whom the company has public appearance agreements.” ESPN officials “did not respond to repeated requests for comment” (Portland OREGONIAN, 2/17).

WHERE TO DRAW THE LINE? Author David Cay Johnston in an opinion piece for POYNTER.org wrote the “payments that Disney lets some of its ESPN on-air reporters take can be described in one word: corrupt.” Fowler, Herbstreit and Corso, along with "GameDay" correspondent Erin Andrews, who has an endorsement deal with Reebok, "are doing work that is entirely assailable every time footwear comes up, whether in reports about those ethically challenged deals footwear companies make with supposedly amateur college teams or during color commentary on whose feet slipped on wet turf.” Johnston asks, “What ethical standards, if any, does Disney CEO Bob Iger apply to Disney journalists? … What distinctions does it draw between ‘reporters’ and ‘personalities’ who appear side-by-side covering the same games, the same events, the teams, all influencing public perceptions?” Johnston: “Iger can do nothing. He can look the other way. But if Iger does nothing his inaction will only arouse suspicions about every journalistic enterprise Disney is engaged in” (POYNTER.org, 2/16).
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