Last Friday MillerCoors sent out a press release touting ESPN college football reporter Jenn Brown as its new celebrity spokesperson for the company’s Icehouse-brand beer. But today a spokesman for MillerCoors told the MILWAUKEE BUSINESS JOURNAL that ESPN had canceled the deal.
(ESPN Execs don’t always drink beer, but when they do, it isn’t Icehouse)
“We have learned from sources at ESPN that the agreement is not moving forward as planned,” said Julian Green, spokesman for Chicago-based MillerCoors, which operates a major brewery and has administrative offices on Milwaukee’s west side.
MillerCoors hasn’t received official word from Brown or her agent pertaining to the status of the deal, which ESPN initially approved, Green said.
ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz has since confirmed that the, “the Jenn Brown Icehouse promotion is no longer.”
Though ESPN has acknowledged killing the deal, the network offered no details today on why the decision was made.
But from talking to numerous sources today, I know the reason.
Bristol-based ESPN employees told me today that Brown was approached by MillerCoors for the deal earlier this year and before proceeding, sought approval from ESPN. ESPN management subsequently approved the deal and MillerCoors, already a major partner with the network, announced the agreement on Friday. (So this wasn’t a case of Brown pulling an end-run on ESPN.)
Once the deal was announced, ESPN upper management previously unaware of the arrangement nixed the association.
The reason? Multiple ESPN sources told me today that network executives were somehow uncomfortable with having a college football “reporter” endorse beer.
So how is ESPN able to resolve that former SportsCenter news anchor Dan Patrick was allowed to endorse Coors Light when he worked for the network but Brown isn’t allowed to pitch another MillerCoors product?
When you own the broadcast rights to the majority of premium college and pro sports play-by-play content, you don’t have to resolve anything. ESPN has a death grip on the cable sports media business and as such has no hesitation in making up the rules as it goes along.
Exhibit A: By not explaining why it killed the Brown-MillerCoors promotion, ESPN obviously feels no need to be accountable to the public or its business partners.
Exhibit B: The same day ESPN killed Jenn Brown’s MillerCoors deal, the net’s hottest weekday ESPN production, SportsNation, featured a lengthy, live on-air appearance by “The Most Interesting Man In the World” character from the long-running Dos Equis ad.
Exhibit C: ESPN analysts Dick Vitale and Lee Corso are longtime pitchmen for a beer-soaked bar chain famed for its sexual innuendo namesake: Hooters.
So when will the ESPN-wrought hypocrisy involving “reporter” Brown, SportsCenter “anchor” Patrick and “analyst” Vitale end?
When you stop asking questions.