Why Is ESPN Letting Darren Rovell Turn Ad Campaigns Into Articles?

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Here is a headline from a recent Darren Rovell article (?) that appeared on ESPN.com earlier this week: "Deal forbids Brees from motorcycle."

Here is the first line Drew Brees speaks in a brand video for Can Am motorcycles: "My football contract forbids me from riding motorcycles."


Here is Brees talking to Rovell for ESPN: "The first chance I have to ride it on a closed course, you can bet I'll take advantage."

Here is Brees in the brand video: "I really wanna ride the new Can Am Spyder"

And here is Rovell quoting the brand video in his article, helpfully summarizing an advertisement just for you, the sports fan looking to win at the water cooler:

"Luckily, I found a loophole: I'm going to retire." Brees then calls his agent to tell him and is then seen dressed in full gear riding the bike.


So here we have a random factoid about Brees's contract that was leveraged by an advertiser who made an advertisement that was then turned into a real story by Rovell, which included this bit of copy that was surely not just handed to him by some PR flack:

Unlike traditional motorcycles, the Can-Am Spyder has three wheels and a Y-shaped frame to provide extra stability. For this reason, the product appeals to a demographic outside the traditional motorcycle buyer.

Rovell's copy sounds so much like a press release that we wondered what the actual press release for this stupid Drew Brees campaign looked like. Turns out, there is no press release—at least, not yet. We sent in a request to Can Am for press materials for this campaign, and Can Am advised us to keep checking their press release page. When nothing appeared there, we tried to get in touch with their communications director and the ad agency behind the Brees campaign. Neither of those entities got back to us.

Now, Darren Rovell is a terrifying brandroid who sounds like a press release at all times no matter what, and this is a dopey story of virtually no consequence. Given that other folks at ESPN have had a nasty habit of lifting from press releases for news articles, though, it's weird, right? It's weird that ESPN would just let Rovell parrot a fucking ad campaign and then call it news. Why would you pay Rovell to quote ads for you when an advertiser can pay you to run those quotes? I'm telling you, this is a CONSPIRACY. This is ESPN and Rovell and BIG TRICYCLE forming a cabal so that they can slowly turn all ESPN web content into 100% product placement. Oh sure, it starts with a little whimsical Drew Brees story that's no big deal to you. But mark my words. Weeks from now, the Heat will win the title and Rovell's headline will say PAPA JOHN WATCHES AS HEAT WIN TRIP TO DISNEYLAND BY DEFEATING NOTED FRITOS SPONSOR.


I emailed Rovell to ask if he had been supplied with any press materials for that Brees campaign. I have yet to hear back. Again… CONSPIRACY.