Brand Upon The Brain

Darren Rovell has been kicked around a lot this week. He deserves it, but he's also just doing his job.
Share |

The most interesting thing about what has been a rough last week for ESPN writer and human GoDaddy.com commercial Darren Rovell, if there's anything all that interesting about it, is that it went by without a signature Rovell mini-outrage until early on Thursday. This isn't to say that Rovell wasn't offensive in his usual smaller, lower register—he was, of course, although this was the milder sort of offense that doubles as Rovell simply doing his chosen gig. In Rovell's Twitter bio, that job is defined as "sports business reporter," which is maybe accurate enough until it becomes hugely inaccurate.

The rough outline of the job appears to be this: Rovell spends most of the day on Twitter, delivering various factoids about recognizable brands and things that are happening to or with them. Imagine a high-def screen bearing some giddy-gross advertising messageswinging out unbidden from a lamppost in some dystopian-quasi-present George Saunders story, and you're close—the majority of Rovell's communication takes the form of a blurt/burp in which the name of a well-known brand appears somewhere near the name of a famous person and, if possible, an implausibly precise dollar figure that assesses the value of that relationship. When Marco Rubio interrupted his cottonmouthed Reagan-karaoke routine after Tuesday's State of the Union address for a sip from a small bottle of Poland Spring water, I joked that Rovell would pull together a tidbit explaining the value of that on-camera sip. That joke, which was not even quite a joke, preceded Rovell's actual tweet—which noted the brand placement and mentioned Poland Spring's popularity and 2012 sales—by just a few minutes.

I haven't followed Rovell on Twitter for some time, mostly because I feel as if I'm getting enough opportunities to Interact With My Favorite Brands and Celebrate My Preferences every day as it is. I find out when Rovell has done something especially Rovell-ian—something dishonest or skeevy or otherwise reflective of his Aspergersian inability to recognize that there are times when the power or presence of some brand or other is not the most important thing—thanks to my Twitter feed, which erupts briefly in a chorus of "this fucking guy"'s and sarcastic thrashings and the other crashes and clanks of last straws settling into place. He can be more or less offensive in the doing of it, but this is finally just Rovell doing Rovell's job, which is to be a little machine that extrudes branded factoids onto the social media conveyer belt like so many pallid, spongy boiled hams, bound to disappoint and dehydrate customers at the world's saddest delis. It's depressing, but luckily there is no requirement that anyone know or care who Rovell is, or listen to him when he talks, or read what he writes. He could not be easier to ignore.

His work cries out for that ignoring, in fact. The majority of Rovell's writing, at least at ESPN, is as rote, abstracted and joyless as his tweets: he mostly repurposes press releases about various developments—the Yankees have a new ticket resale plan with Ticketmaster, or Jell-O's Super Bowl marketing stunt. ("We lost our core family consumer," Jell-O's senior brand manager told Rovell. "We want them to know that we're about fun.") There is some writing and we can only presume some small amount of talking on the phone involved in this part of Rovell's job, but it doesn't exactly feel like reporting—there is no story being followed from one stage to the next, no palpable angle being taken, no perspective in evidence. The business of sports is interesting, but that's not what Rovell is covering so much as he's covering the brandstunts that are designed to synergize and coincide with sports things, and which are targeted at people who watch sports.

It's worth wondering whether anyone would want to read a long story on Jell-O's marketing plan to reach and recapture football viewers, but Rovell isn't writing that story, anyway. The gambit is the thing, and Rovell covers these various brandstunts with the weary dutifulness of a White House pool reporter, appends the relevant sales figures at the end of the story (or tweet) to show his work, and moves on to the next.

So there isn't really a proper name for what Rovell does, because it's new, and because he seems to be re-imagining it on the fly. Every day he tweets the book. It's a shitty book, of course. But its shittiness and his isn't really new, or news.

***

If there's something offensive about the job that Rovell has—and there is plenty, actually, most of which can be traced to the way it repurposes journalism into another spam funnel—the thing that seems persistently to bother people about it is how he does it. Will Leitch dropped a daisy cutter of an anti-tribute on Rovell at Sports On Earth, and it's less about Rovell's awful cynical job than it is about what an asshole he is in the doing of it. Tom Ziller, in what might be a more damaging critique, went to the trouble of laying out Rovell's weird and gratuitous dishonesty in the trollish pursuit of a Twitter spat over the question of whether Sacramento deserved to keep the Kings; Rovell, unsurprisingly, was taking the position that Sacramento just didn't have what it takes.

This is Rovell when he's at home, it seems: a Trump-ian kicker of "losers," a cheerlead-y booster of any and all business "innovation"—not so much a free market fanboy as something more like a marketing enthusiast. There may well be some expertise in this field buried in Rovell's flat-affect press release reiteration, but it's not easy to find in either his tweets or his longer writing—the sales numbers and out-of-nowhere value assessments ("That swig of Gatorade was worth $113,455!") take the place of context, and quotes pulled from press releases stand in for the perspective that could have come from those who have some to lend. Compilation, recitation: that's all that Rovell asks of himself, but more damningly it seems to be just about all that Rovell's job asks of him.

If Rovell is a jerk on his spare time—bragging on his six-figure Twitter following, a full 48 percent of which consists of active accounts owned by humans, per Status People; grousing that they don't make Playmates like they used to; pulling for a basketball team to desert an unfashionable city—the bigger problem would seem to be what he does at work. This week's Rovell outrage came when, with his characteristic tact and perspective, Rovell noted that South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius was wearing an Oakley sweatshirt when he was led from his home by police after being arrested in the shooting death of his girlfriend. He followed it with a torrent of Rovellian reportage—the statements issued by Pistorius' various sponsors, updates on the status of advertising campaigns that featured Pistorius. There was a photo of a Pistorius billboard coming down, although there was no indication of whether it was connected to the arrest; Rovell simply took the photo (with attribution) from the Instagram of a South African marketer and posted it as his own Twitpic.

And Twitter roiled as it does. This fucking guy, who could follow him and why, et fumingly cetera. By early afternoon, Rovell had moved on, tweeting without context the dollar figures that college football television and radio rights were worth in 1970. It's maybe unfair to knock a tweet for a lack of context: there are only so many characters available, after all. But this, as much as that crass tweet about the brand impact of a maybe-murderer's sweatshirt or the ones that will invariably follow it, was just Rovell at work, doing the job he has been given to do, and for the doing of which he is paid handsomely. It's not a question of characters or space so much as it is of expectation: give Rovell as much money as ABC and ESPN give him, give him as many characters as there are and all the time in the world, and this sort of poker-faced horrorshow is what you will always get.

It's all Rovell seems capable of giving, and that's on him and that's a shame. His bosses have continually told him that it's enough, and paid and promoted him as if it were valuable, and that's incalculably worse. His excuse is being Darren Rovell. What's theirs?


Share |

Comments

I just found this blog and have high hopes for it to continue. Keep up the great work. its hard to find good ones. I have added to my favorites. Thank You.as example

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article drain cleaning company

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article drain cleaning company

This sort of message continually rousing and I like to peruse quality substance, so glad to discover great spot to numerous here in the post, the written work is simply awesome, a debt of gratitude is in order for the post. OctoSuite Review – Nothing Else Really Matters

A great job you have already done. I’m really delighted to see your amazing work.
Sequoia India

I truly cherished perusing your online journal. It was extremely very much composed and straightforward. Not at all like different online journals I have perused which are truly not that good.Thanks alot!
custom cake toppers

The website is looking bit flashy and it catches the visitors eyes. Design is pretty simple and a good user friendly interface. Halloween store

the world's saddest delis. It's depressing, but luckily there is no requirement that anyone know or care who Rovell is, or listen to him when he talks, or read what he writes. He could not be easier to ignore.
jeux gratuits en ligne |
psn card codes

All the contents you mentioned in post is too good and can be very useful. I will keep it in mind, thanks for sharing the information keep updating, looking forward for more posts.
business cloud storage

I am just pretty happy to sign up ones own guestbook these days,Your own feedback and listed below are excellent in my opinion,incidentally I should say also definitely will teach some great supplements for your needs every.
tyroler kostume

Very interesting blog. A lot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definitely interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know Pavé Tile Co.

All the contents you mentioned in post is too good and can be very useful. I will keep it in mind, thanks for sharing the information keep updating, looking forward for more posts.
citation

Its my great pleasure to visit your blog and to enjoy your great posts here. I like it a lot. I can feel that you paid much attention for those articles, as all of them make sense and are very useful.
kostume

Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles
going here

This post is truly inspiring. I like your post and everything you share with us is current and very informative, I want to bookmark the page so I can return here from you that you have done a fantastic
locksmith aventura

Awesome review, I am a major devotee to remarking on web journals to advise the website essayists realize that they"ve added something beneficial to the internet!.. business moving help NJ Wedding Limousines

I just like the valuable info you provide for your articles.I’ll bookmark your weblog and take a look at once more right here regularly. I am reasonably certain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff proper here web seo

I expected work no less than this from you and you've not disappointed me. This is great work from your side, my friend. I just hope that you can continue this in the future as well

going here

This post is presumably where I got the most valuable data for my exploration. A debt of gratitude is in order for posting,. sewer vide inspection

This will create a fantastic wetland area for breeding waders and wintering wildfowl. Werken in Marokko

I am really impressed by reading this article. Interesting post and I really like your take on the issue. I now have a clear idea on what this matter is all about

all natural makeup products

The quality of your articles and contents is great.
Sequoia Capital

I am really impressed by reading this article. Interesting post and I really like your take on the issue. I now have a clear idea on what this matter is all about. novoline online

I thought haven’t read such distinctive material anywhere else on-line.
Curry Macfarlane Group

Your contents are too straightforward to browse and easy to understand.
cash now loans

The quality of your blogs and conjointly the articles and price appreciating.
payday loan source

Took me time to understand all of the comments, but I seriously enjoyed the write-up. It proved being really helpful to me and Im positive to all of the commenters right here!
Toscana

A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one h20 playlist

Your articles make whole sense of every topic.low cost whole life insurance quotes

I even have been getting a lot of helpful and informative material in your web site.
liability car coverage

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article IVC Filter attorney

Great post i must say and thanks for the information. Education is definitely a sticky subject. However, is still among the leading topics of our time. I appreciate your post and look forward to more. matcha tee

I agree with you. This post is truly inspiring. I like your post and everything you share with us is current and very informative, I want to bookmark the page so I can return here from you that you have done a fantastic job http://fakeidboss.net

I did enjoy reading articles posted on this site. They are impressive and has a lot of useful information.
piper meridan

I have come across and believe me I have been searching out for this similar kind of post for past a week and hardly came across this. Thank you very much and will look for more postings from you aro water filter

This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing websites that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free high trustflow backlinks

You have a real ability for writing unique content. I like how you think and the way you represent your views in this article. I agree with your way of thinking citation

You have a real ability for writing unique content. I like how you think and the way you represent your views in this article. I agree with your way of thinking get more Information

I thought it was going to be some boring old post, but it really compensated for my time. I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will locate that extremely useful. explainer video los angeles

I read a considerable measure of stuff and i found that the method for composing to clearing that precisely need to say was great so i am inspired and i like to come back again in future tourist attractions in usa states

Good blog along with the excellent quality stuff and I’m sure this will be greatly helpful.
Andrew

Thanks a lot for producing this magical post today. This is the best thing that I've read in a long time. And the information you provided here was really helpful for me as well forestwoods

These are actually wonderful some ideas in the blog. You have touched good quality points here. In whatever way continue writing.
South Florida Hair Extensions

There are several advantages which these kinds of structures offer you. They light-weight and an easy task to assemble. Since they often can be found in panels, they are usually easy to build FIB

This is a splendid website! I"m exceptionally content with the remarks!.. elite money machines bonus

Its my great pleasure to visit your blog and to enjoy your great posts here. I like it a lot. I can feel that you paid much attention for those articles, as all of them make sense and are very useful.
Halstedhus Efterskole

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article Draftkings promo

a debt of gratitude is in order for this usefull article, sitting tight for this article like this once more. Language of Desire Review

I was just browsing through the internet looking for some information and came across your blog. I am impressed by the information that you have on this blog. It shows how well you understand this subject. Bookmarked this page, will come back for more.
Download video youtube

Pleasant online journal and totally exceptional. You can improve yet despite everything I say this perfect.Keep striving generally advantageous. high trust flow backlinks