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ESPN Rolls Out New Endorsement Guidelines

Following recent criticism (ie: Erin Andrews‘ Reebok deal) ESPN announced their new endorsement guidelines for their 1,000-plus commentators Wednesday.

Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, took to the company’s new Front Row blog in order to explain the guidelines:

As you would expect, we will bring careful consideration to each situation presented and we recognize that clearly there will be exceptions. In fact, you will note one passage of the guidelines deals with the inherent differences between former coaches, players and administrators turned analysts and other commentators.

The guidelines address situations in which our people would be compensated by a third party to endorse or promote a product or service through commercials, personal appearances or in other ways. The document goes on to outline some areas that may be particularly problematic, especially from a perception standpoint.

Examples include athletic equipment, apparel or footwear companies, most notably the ones that supply the teams and athletes regularly covered by ESPN. As the guidelines emphasize, part of any commentator’s ability to work at ESPN comes with the requirement for them to disclose and obtain approval of third-party endorsement opportunities.

Beginning Monday, we plan to publicly list any relevant, approved endorsements involving ESPN commentators on ESPN.com. We are more committed than ever to our mission of serving sports fans and we feel the steps we are taking today will help us better meet that goal.

As for Andrews, she will have to give up her Reebok endorsement deal at the end of the year.

“For Erin’s Reebok agreement, we plan to allow that commitment to be honored for the rest of the year before that relationship ends,” spokesman Josh Krulewitz told USA Today. “The fact is that the sponsor has made significant commitments to campaigns involving Erin and we feel it’s the right thing to do to allow those commitments to be honored.”


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