Commentary Takes Proactive Stance On Penn State Scandal

Finally, an example of swift and powerful leadership in the Penn State scandal. Finally, someone willing to take a proactive moral stance without pressure on the doorstep. Finally, someone strong enough to say we don’t have all the facts, but we’ve seen enough.

And from where? Corporate America. has expressed its outrage by refusing to attach its name to Penn State football games on ESPN over the next two weekends by pulling its sponsorships.

What is remarkable is took action relatively early as the scandal began taking hold. It informed ESPN of its decision Tuesday morning, which seems like a lifetime ago as the story has raced ahead.

It could have waited to get a fuller sense of public reaction or what the Penn State administration would do. Many self-interested companies would have.

But, while debate percolated about whether the Penn State board of trustees should or would fire Joe Paterno, effectively said the university can dither and do what it wants, we’re out.



Also notable, apparently did not look for a PR gain from its sensitivity. It didn’t issue a press release with a self-righteous quote from the CEO. Many didn’t know about its action until word came on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” late Thursday.

(By the way, as speculation persists whether ESPN’s business interests influence its news operations, that reporting was an example of independence, for the report could have prompted other advertisers to pull out Saturday.) issued a statement Friday morning after a media inquiry that offered hope the Penn State horror will ultimately yield better perspective on college football’s role in university life and greater action by school administrations to assert control over the sport.  

As an ESPN football sponsor, said “it's important to us that we're building our brand in a way that celebrates the sport, its fans and the dedication of its student athletes.”

By moving off the two Penn State games, is forgoing exposure to large audiences. There will be plenty of interest in the scene Saturday at Penn State's home game, while the Nov. 19 game against Ohio State could have Rose Bowl implications. did say it is not pulling back on any of its investment with ESPN and will simply move spots that would have run in the two games to other programming.

ESPN would not comment, but there is no indication that any other marketer has withdrawn advertising for the Penn State games.

Of course, a marketer that does so can't be accused of harboring any lack of understanding about the enormity of the scandal by a long shot. It just makes’s action appear more impressive.

4 comments about " Takes Proactive Stance On Penn State Scandal ".
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  1. Chris Hogue from Roundarch, November 11, 2011 at 2:40 p.m.

    Kudos Next time I'm in the market for a new auto, you are my first stop!

  2. Philip Moore from Philip Moore, November 11, 2011 at 4:16 p.m.

    Mitch is a great leader who puts ethics ahead of profit. He is willing to make the tough decisions, even if the high road is the hard road. For example, he added consumer ratings to his dealer listings even though the dealers are the ones who pay for the advertising on his site. In essence, he cut his own market potential, saying to the dealers with bad consumer ratings, if you don't want people to know how your customers rate their experience at your dealership, take your advertising dollars somewhere else. also encourages dealers to share the Carfax report on all of their used vehicle listings. It's pretty easy to spot the dealers to avoid when they have bad consumer ratings and refuse to publish the Carfax on their used cars.

  3. Solaria Kovak from The Kovak Group Inc, November 12, 2011 at 9:37 a.m.

    Finally, someone who stands up for the Principle of the matter with integrity. Strength of character and integrity is what great leaders inherently have in their dna. Kudos Mr CEO!

  4. Todd Brewster from Media Buying Decisions, November 20, 2011 at 6:16 p.m.

    I am sorry I am so late in getting to this article. IMO this is a classic example how ESPN lynched Joe Paterno and distorted the facts that he actually followed procedure. ESPN went after Paterno instead of the guilty person, Sandusky, because Paterno meant ratings and as I read the comments here it seems like even knowledgeable people bought into it.

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