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

smart seo
Yes, great US Military force. Also, in his post you have given a chance to listen about US Military. I really appreciate your work. Thanks for sharing it.

Whenever i became on your site while having particular attention easily a bit of tiny bit submits. Pleasing technique for long run, I'll be book-marking at the moment have models accomplish springs right up. Wilson Lock & Key Service

aurora landscaping
Hollo+Kwan is an African inspired fashion marketplace with bespoke original swimwear, casual and home decor collections.

Kray Sounds 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. best property in chandigarh

Just pure brilliance from you here. I have never expected something less than this from you and you have not disappointed me at all.fitness pr

To say the truth I am very impressed by what you told. You share tons of interesting info, neat and excellent design you’ve got here. It’s certainly one of the most informative stuff on this topic I’ve ever read.
hampton bay fans

This is a fantastic website and I can not recommend you guys enough. I really appreciate your post. It is very helpful for all the people on the web.
hampton bay ceiling fans

pr on a budget
You have done a great job. I will definitely dig it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site.

natural weightloss
This article clears my mind. Writer has done great job. Best thing about this blog is its simplicity. Thank you so much. Keep posting

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

ielts academic
have read your article, it is very informative and helpful for me.I admire the valuable information you offer in your articles. Thanks for posting it..

happy wheels demo
Mmm.. good to be here in your article or post, whatever, I think I should also work hard for my own website like I see some good and updated working in your site.

We are experienced in all aspects of residential and commercial landscaping in Richmond Hill. We create outdoor spaces where your senses can experience that extraordinary feeling by letting beauty indulge you and provide you the escape of the demands of everyday life. Our unique designs are based on proper plant and material selection. We base our work on the teaching of our naturanewmarket landscaping
l environment.

laser clinic toronto
The Ideal Dream Laser Clinic is a cosmetic-medical center offering only certified, result-oriented hair removal, Skin rejuvenating, body countering and weight loss services for both men and women. Our team includes certified technicians, Registered Dietitian and specialized skin and laser consultants. We offer the highest level of safety and service in an environment where the main priority is your safety, health and privacy. Our clinic located in heart of north York , Yonge and Steeles area close to public transit. 5 min walk to center of Yonge and Steeles, 88 Steeles Ave. East Toronto.

weight loss program scarborough
Modern Facilities and Professional Care.

Find tires
Thank you so much. This is very kind of you to share such an amzing knowledge. Hats off.

I truly thank you for the important information on this extraordinary subject and anticipate more awesome posts. Much obliged for getting a charge out of this magnificence article with me. I am welcoming it all that much! Anticipating another extraordinary article. Good fortunes to the creator! All the best! kit tattoo

صوت الضبع
Thank you for your post, I look for such article along time, today i find it finally. this post give me lots of advise it is very useful for me.

I’m excited to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!!https://essayrepublic.com/ I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site

dallas web developer
Thanks for taking the time to discuss this. I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible. as you gain expertise. would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.

link building service
I am happy to find this post very useful for me. as it contains lot of information.

Much obliged to you for extremely usefull data.. Computer Repair

Hi, I really need the information more as you have provided in this valuable blog.
poker online

health pr firms
I read your blog frequently and I just thought I’d say keep up the amazing work!

mobile press release
so happy to find good place to many here in the post, the writing is just great, thanks for the post.

A debt of gratitude is in order for the post and awesome tips..even I additionally imagine that diligent work is the most imperative part of getting achievement.. Carpet repairs loganville ga

weightloss therapy
read that Post and got it fine and informative. Please share more like that...

IT asset disposition
This is my first time visit here. From the tons of comments on your articles.I guess I am not only one having all the enjoyment right here!

top pr consultants
I really appreciate this wonderful post that you have provided for us. I assure this would be beneficial for most of the people.

flyff online 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! nicl ao recruitment

Much obliged for the online journal stacked with such a variety of data. Ceasing by your site assisted me with getting what I was searching for. women shoes target

public relations
I want you to thank for your time of this wonderful read!!! I definately enjoy every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff of your blog a must read blog!

The peachy news is that radical banners can be as important as clients necessity them to be. Since writing companies typically use plumping machines for the job, it shouldnâ¬"t be slaty for clients to status a oblong size of headline to fit a construction. Kind sure to settle just where the headline instrument b Cheap Bookmarks Printing only at cheap55printing.com

upvc Windows, Double-glazed windows, Two-piece PVC windows, Sale of old iron furniture replacement, Sale of double-glazed windows
Upvc Windows

I want you to thank for your time of this wonderful read!!! I definately enjoy every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff of your blog a must read blog!
Apk Mod

weight loss program scarborough
Samira Laser Clinic in Scarborough should be your only choice for laser hair removal. Our precision equipment carefully removes your hair while keeping your skin soft and glowing. We specialize in laser hair removal, facials and microdermabrasion. We also perform waxing and sell laser hair removal machines!

laser clinic north york
The Ideal Dream Laser Clinic is a cosmetic-medical center offering only certified, result-oriented hair removal, Skin rejuvenating, body countering and weight loss services for both men and women. Our team includes certified technicians, Registered Dietitian and specialized skin and laser consultants. We offer the highest level of safety and service in an environment where the main priority is your safety, health and privacy. Our clinic located in heart of north York , Yonge and Steeles area close to public transit. 5 min walk to center of Yonge and Steeles, 88 Steeles Ave. East Toronto.

newmarket landscaping
We are experienced in all aspects of residential and commercial landscaping in Richmond Hill. We create outdoor spaces where your senses can experience that extraordinary feeling by letting beauty indulge you and provide you the escape of the demands of everyday life. Our unique designs are based on proper plant and material selection. We base our work on the teaching of our natural environment.

laser clinic toronto
The Ideal Dream Laser Clinic is a cosmetic-medical center offering only certified, result-oriented hair removal, Skin rejuvenating, body countering and weight loss services for both men and women. Our team includes certified technicians, Registered Dietitian and specialized skin and laser consultants. We offer the highest level of safety and service in an environment where the main priority is your safety, health and privacy. Our clinic located in heart of north York , Yonge and Steeles area close to public transit. 5 min walk to center of Yonge and Steeles, 88 Steeles Ave. East Toronto.

Easily, the article is actually the best topic on this registry related issue. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. dressage

florida pr agencies
I am continually amazed by the amount of information available on this subject. What you presented was well researched and well worded in order to get your stand on this across to all your readers.

http://www.markedsindex.dk/blog/B992/Koncertbussen-Fyn.aspx Excellent Blog! I would like to thank for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. I wanted to thank you for this websites! Thanks for sharing. Great websites!

Wow i can say this is another extraordinary article not surprisingly of this blog.Bookmarked this webpage.. women shoes pumps

free pr
I love the standard writing as offered in this post, cheers to the author.

I am very happy to read this article .. thanks for giving us go through info.Fantastic nice. I appreciate this post.
http://www.creditcardcompanyuk.com/big-cities/albuquerque-credit-repair-attorney/

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.
unlock windows pc

Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now, mastergrades and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work.

brake kits for cars
Lots of thanks for this post.I think it is a very good post. It helps us many away. So many many thanks for this article.

"If we are talking about the latest craze all over the world, what you are going to say? Fidget Spinner and Fidget Toy? Yes! Oh well, you can't believe it. In just 2 months, it has craze the world! First, you can see these Fidget Spinners everywhere with kids and teens in every classroom and school. Shortly they quickly invaded offices and became the favorite hand toys of adults.

Brands and Businesses are quickly catching up this new hot trend for their marketing purposes, like event promotions, conference gifts, corporate gifts, trade show giveaways, promotional gift items with those customized, logo Fidget Spinners as the best promotional products today!" Custom Fidget Spinner

travel course
Your work forces out your followers for blog commenting.