SBD/April 14, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Erin Andrews Must Surrender Reebok Deal After ESPN Amends Endorsement Policy

Andrews' Reebok deal came under fire after her Rose Bowl report about Nike
ESPN reporter Erin Andrews will have to give up her Reebok endorsement as soon as the deal with the shoe company ends, ESPN Exec VP/Production Norby Williamson said. The decision results from ESPN's new endorsement guidelines, which mandate that reporters and hosts can not sign endorsement deals with "apparel, footwear or athletic equipment" companies that ESPN may cover. Williamson said the new guidelines would affect "four or five" endorsement agreements. Williamson: "There are a handful of existing agreements that would be in violation of these guidelines. We will allow those commitments to be honored for the rest of the contract term." The guidelines will not affect Chris Berman's endorsement deal with Applebee's restaurant, Williamson said, because ESPN does not cover Applebee's (John Ourand, THE DAILY). Williamson said that "fewer than 10 of the network's 1,000 on-air personalities would be required to relinquish endorsement deals by the end of this year as a result of the policy revisions" (Portland OREGONIAN, 4/14). Andrews will "have to give up her lucrative new endorsement deal as of Jan. 1, 2012." ESPN VP/PR Josh Krulewitz: "For Erin's Reebok agreement, we plan to allow that commitment to be honored for the rest of the year before that relationship ends. The fact is that the sponsor has made significant commitments to campaigns involving Erin and we feel it's the right thing to do to allow those commitments to be honored" (USATODAY.com, 4/13). ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt has an endorsement deal with Titleist, and in N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes the new policy "would have probably prohibited" the deal from being signed. IMG's Sandy Montag, whose agency reps several ESPN broadcasters including Andrews and Van Pelt, said, "I have no problem with ESPN not allowing reporters and anchors to endorse products indigenous to the sports they cover." Krulewitz said Van Pelt will also be able to continue his association with Titleist for "a logical length of time." Montag said that they "would finish their contracts, which each have a year or less remaining" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/14).
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