Great Moments in Product Placement

Reason number 346 why I want to move my family into a fortified compound:

Darren Rovell of CNBC is a sports business expert. His beat: Ticket sales. Team marketing. What ads were up behind home plate when the no-hitter ended. What logo the tennis player had on the towel with which she wiped her face just before winning the French Open. How much free exposure Anheuser-Busch got when the basketball player flew into the crowd and knocked over the beers. This stuff is occasionally obnoxious because, really, people don’t want to be constantly reminded of just how for sale everything is, but Rovell is really good at what he does. And he’s probably right that everything is for sale anyway.  I read and link his work all the time even if it drives me a bit nuts on occasion.

Last night, though, was a new low. Or high. I’m not sure which.

I was on Twitter, bullshitting with baseball and media people during the Rays-Rangers game. Just as the game was put out of reach, the first Chilean miner was pulled up from the hole. Everyone in my little clique of virtual friends was going back and forth between the game and CNN and everyone was talking about both things.  Then this exchange happened:

Rovell: “1st miner was wearing Oakleys. I estimate worldwide exposure of a least $100 million for company”

Me, retweeting him: “Not sure if serious …"  Really, I figured he was just cracking wise "in character,” as it were. Which would have been pretty funny, actually.

Rovell, in a direct message to me: “dead serious. scroll back your TV, Craig.”

Me: “I don’t doubt he was wearing Oakleys. I was just surprised that your first thought at this was the marketing angle.”

He ignored me after that, but tweeted a bunch more stuff about how Oakley provided the glasses, how Oakley has offices in Chile, and that sort of thing.

Again, nothing personal against Rovell because that’s the sort of work he does and he probably can’t help himself. But I think it may have been the most depressing Twitter exchange in the history of Twitter exchanges.

I am about the least sentimental and emotional person on the planet when it comes to news stories like these, but man, we were watching a rare moment in which the human spirit peaked out from behind all of the awfulness in this world, and people are thinking about … product placement.

Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the author of the daily baseball (and other things) newsletter, Cup of Coffee. He writes about other things at He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.

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