Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

An Online Fantasy Football Gambling Site Is Using An Impersonator To Make You Think Jim Rome Is A Spokesperson

When your company's website features a prominent "Is This Legal?" link on its homepage, it's probably in an industry engaging in some kind of questionable behavior. But there it is on the front page of fantasy football gambling site FanDuel, in which we're told that yes, it is legal (in 44 of the 50 states).

Hey, if you're enough of a degenerate gambler to spend your money playing fantasy sports and funnel your money through another company rather than share it with your friends, that's your prerogative. But it's especially sketchy how FanDuel advertises: with a sports-talk radio ad impersonating Jim Rome, running in some cases during Rome's radio show itself.


You can listen to the ad above. It's clearly intended to mislead listeners into thinking it's a) not an advertisement (it opens with "Okay, we're back") and b) being read by Jim Rome. While the impersonator is a relatively crappy one, he uses Rome's characteristic pacing and catchphrases.

Maybe Rome authorized the impersonation, but he's never had a problem voicing ads for any other of his sponsors, so we're guessing this is happening without his approval. And that approval would be necessary, at least as reflected by the law (this is why most radio ads featuring a celebrity impersonator feature the words "Celebrity impersonated" at the end). It's called the right of publicity, and it got Ford Motor Company smacked down by the courts in 1988 when they tried to use a Bette Midler voice impersonator to sell cars. This is the same thing, but even more devious—they're not only implying it's a celebrity endorsement, but that it's happening during programming, not a stopset/ad break.

In the end, is this really any worse than the penis-lengthening snake oil ads that run in heavy rotation on those same sports talk stations? Not really.

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