Penn State Sex Scandal Drives ESPN Sponsor Out, Temporarily

The fallout and media coverage over the scandal at Penn State has caused one of ESPN's advertisers to temporarily pull its college football TV sponsorship.

In the wake of Penn State's sex abuse scandal, Cars.com has withdrawn its "Presenting Sponsorship" of "Saturday Afternoon College Football" on ESPN for the next two weeks. This was first reported by ESPN's "SportsCenter."

These games include Penn State-Nebraska, airing at noon this Saturday, and next Saturday's Penn State-Ohio State game. An ESPN spokeswoman had no comment about this or any other potential TV sponsors pulling out of games involving Penn State.

With the scandal already taking the jobs of long-time Penn State football coach Joe Paterno as well as the college president, Graham Spanier, media buyers talked about being cautious about how to advise specific clients who buy college football involving Penn State.

Gary Carr, senior vp/executive director of national broadcast for media-buying agency TargetCast tcm -- who doesn't have any clients in these games -- said: "I would probably pull out." Still another media executive said: "We are asking the question; we haven't decided yet."

Another media agency executive did not believe all football viewers will associate the off-the-field events at Penn State with a football game on the field. In addition, some believe TV ratings could rise because of the huge amount of press attention surrounding the game.

Concerning the coverage of the Penn State-Nebraska game this Saturday, Norby Williamson, executive vp of production of ESPN, said in the network's "Front & Center" podcast on November 10: 

"It's going to be a balance. You are going to balance the game and the issues surrounding the game -- new head coach, new administration. You have to be flexible and fluid, not tied to any rundown. There are questions about how the crowd will behave and how the crowd will react."

Recommend (8) Print RSS
4 comments about " Penn State Sex Scandal Drives ESPN Sponsor Out, Temporarily".
  1. Thom Kennon from Brabble , November 11, 2011 at 9:53 a.m.
    Two thoughts --- 1- Good for Cars.com pulling out support for ESPN show tomorrow. 2- Bad for MediaDaily for sloppy hedlining: it IS NOT a "sex scandal" --- it's an institutional cover-up of a serial rapist. Thom Kennon | @tkennon | bigevidence.blogspot.com | +Thom Kennon
  2. Thomas Siebert from WOLFGANG SOLO: Strategic Communications & Benevolent Propaganda , November 11, 2011 at 10:14 a.m.
    I echo and applaud Mr. Kennon on both counts. This is not a story about a "sex scandal." What happened was a sex CRIME, followed by a conspiracy of silence and cover-up.
  3. James Armstrong from Brand Marketing Concepts , November 12, 2011 at 9:21 a.m.
    I find both of your comments to be personal opinions and whenever you inject personal feelings over fact an reasoning you do you clients a diservice!! First a Foremost, this is non a Penn State Sex Scandal, this is a Jerry Sandusky Scandal - both of you and your lack grasp of the facts is the reason why this has been reported wrong by the media. Cars.com is going to see blowback from this.....They are alienating a whole loyal college comunity for no reason, they are trying to make a stand and putting themselves into a story where they do not belong. It has been proven time and time again, when 2nd rate advertisers try to make themselves part of the narrative, it comes back to bite them in the end. Make my words - once the PSU Alumni gets a hold of this story - they will see a decrease in traffic!
  4. Thomas Siebert from WOLFGANG SOLO: Strategic Communications & Benevolent Propaganda , November 12, 2011 at 2:17 p.m.
    I dunno, James, I feel like I've got a pretty good handle on the facts. Let's see: Sandusky allegedly raped a bunch of kids on PSU's campus, a series of Penn State authorities covered it up and/or failed to follow up, a couple of these Penn State people have already been arrested, the Penn State prez and Penn State head coach have been fired, and the head coach is now lawyering up. You dispute any of that? Seems like there's a whole lot of Penn State going on there. It's interesting, though, James, that you felt strongly enough about this that you actually registered on MediaPost today to make your first-ever comment on their site. Let's also note that neither you nor your company is on Linked-In, and that you have 139 web domains registered under your name in addition to Brand Marketing Concepts. Troll much? So don't muddy the waters here, 'kay? And take your pathetic threats to Cars.com with you. Try to sell it on some more pedophile-friendly site. Because from where I sit, perhaps Cars.com will see some blowback on this, but they've also impressed me. I will certainly look into their website first when considering my next car. There's a great quote in the new Steve Jobs biography, where he tells Rupert Murdoch that it's not a matter of left and right, Republican and Democrat, blue or red anymore; it's constructive vs destructive. Brands and citizens need to take a stand about being either constructive or destructive, and I applaud Cars.com for being the former.