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

It just takes a bit of effort to be able to learn how to make some nice dishes. The more shows you watch and cookbooks you read will definitely help you ed miracle shake

Your blogs stuff is purely enough for me personally. http://12weekmasteryreviews.org - 12 week mastery

Awesome post, and extraordinary site. A debt of gratitude is in order for the data! mouse control

Chelating medical care will be dangerous (even fatal) and offers no advantages, creating it probably the foremost harmful syndrome Singapore private investigation

Hi, I have searched a large portion of your posts. This post is presumably where I got the most valuable data for my exploration. A debt of gratitude is in order for posting, possibly we can see more on this. Are you mindful of whatever other sites on this subject. dna wealth blueprint review

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 charcoal pads for underwear

Much appreciated such a great amount for this data. I need to tell you I agree on a few of the focuses you make here and others may require some further survey, yet I can see your perspective. Forever Yours

Super-Duper site! I am Loving it!! Will come back again, Im taking your feed also, Thanks. inbox blueprint 2

this is truly pleasant to read..informative post is great to read..thanks a considerable measure! Greenville Lawyer SEO

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.
minecraft free games |
psn code

A debt of gratitude is in order for imparting this quality data to us. I truly appreciated perusing. Will without a doubt going to impart this URL to my companions. venus factor

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.
0800

Great Article it its really informative and innovative keep us posted with new updates. its was really valuable. thanks a lot free 0800 numbers

You have a genuine capacity for composing exceptional substance. I like how you think and the way you speak to your perspectives in this article. I concur with your state of mind. Much obliged to you for sharing. Beat Addiction

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! packers and movers pimpri chinchwad

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!
hay day hacks

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 view

Awesome post, you have pointed out some incredible focuses , I in like manner think this s an exceptionally brilliant site. affilorama review

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.
bedste musikefterskole

I absolutely respect and appreciate your point on each and every object. drunk driving arrests

The data you have posted is exceptionally helpful. The locales you have alluded was great. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing... timothy schmidt

I concede, I have not been on this site page in quite a while... be that as it may it was another delight to see It is such a vital subject and overlooked by such a variety of, even experts. experts. I thank you to help making individuals more mindful of conceivable issues. Vinci3D Demo

Hair Styling, Hair Perm, Bridal makeup and hair. We have a wide collection of haircuts for women with the proper shampoo before dressing . supreme garcinia cambogia reviews

I actually found this blog and that is amazing thing I enjoy reading this easy to understand stuff. Keep it up. things to do before your old

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 . tattoo supplies

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 futureindonesia kopi

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 Private investigation

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...
Personal Injury Attorney

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. It is the old what goes around comes around routine.how to start Importation Business in Nigeria

I respect what you have done here. I like the part where you say you are doing this to give back yet I would expect by every one of the remarks this is working for you too. pirate kings hack download

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 investigation agency

I went over this site and I trust you have a considerable measure of superb data, spared to my bookmarks drug rehab

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 Pavé Tile Co.

Awesome work! That is quite appreciated. I hope you’ll get more success.

depression

Your blogs further more each else volume is so entertaining further serviceable It appoints me befall retreat encore. I will instantly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates.
http://www.dspacecloud.org/vitapulse-review-really-work/

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 www.wcctx.org

Paul Thek and his Circle in the 1950s" examines for the first time Thek as a young man, "placing him within a group of friends and lovers that provided an adoring audience and creative influence for his earliest works," according to a press release. SAME DAY FLOWER DELIVERY UK

It is perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I've read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or suggestions investigation agency

This article gives the light in which we can watch reality. This is astoundingly middle of the road one and gives indepth data high trust flow

The creek flows generally south-southwest through a narrow coastal watershed at the southern extreme end of the arid Los Angeles Basin in a fairly straight course Coupon

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.
efterskolernes dag

That’s really amazing and extraordinary blogs & can help those who get issues in searching this type of information.

PTSD therapy

Superb way of explaining, and great blog to get wonderful information.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder information

I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read !! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved to fab to look at new information in your siteessay writing blog

We believe that every fine rug tells a story and manifests a tradition; it is an investment for generations to come and selecting one should be a tailored fulfilling experience.stomach workout

I havent any word to welcome this post.....Really i am inspired from this post....the individual who make this post it was an extraordinary human..thanks for imparted this to us. Angry birds space

I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging. Looking to reading your next post.job fair

I got a great deal of learning subsequent to perusing good fortunes. Topic of web journal is incredible there is very nearly everything to peruse, Brilliant post.Loft conversions twickenham

examples that people can relate to and understand. My sessions also need to entertain and engage so that people are happy to be there in what is essentially their spare time.roofing kingston

Our family works closely with our clients and suppliers to ensure that every selection leads to satisfaction for decades.Sell Silver