Last week, Mountain Dew released a 90-second commercial featuring CBS/Turner Sports commentator Grant Hill at a news anchor desk attempting to talk about the NCAA Tournament as a basketball-style buzzer beeps out trademarked terms such as “March Madness” and a producer blames “lawyers.”
The spot is pretty funny, but it appears to have gotten Hill in some trouble. Michael Smith of Sports Business Daily reports that CBS, Turner Sports, and NCAA sponsor Coca-Cola are upset to see Hill sponsoring a product with no ties to the NCAA Tournament. Via Sports Business Daily:
That a CBS/Turner talent is endorsing a rival brand is not going over well inside Coke’s Atlanta HQ, sources said. Coke has been an NCAA corporate champion since ’02 and spends in the neighborhood of $30M annually across multiple categories for NCAA rights. CBS and Turner manage the NCAA’s marketing and sponsorship program, in addition to the TV and digital broadcasts. Sources said the networks were not aware that Hill signed an endorsement deal with Mtn Dew until recently.
Coca-Cola probably wouldn’t have been thrilled to see a CBS/Turner Sports personality in any ad for Pepsi-owned Mountain Dew, but you have to imagine they’re extra peeved that Hill’s ad pokes fun at the exclusivity of March Madness-related terms. When you spend $30 million for rights, you don’t like to see a supposed partner mocking those very rights.
Here is the ad in question:
Per Sports Business Daily, CBS and Turner Sports personalities are typically free to negotiate endorsement deals on their own, so Hill does not seem to have broken any rules. Of course, you often don’t have to break rules to anger your bosses.
Hill will again work on CBS/Turner’s top NCAA Tournament broadcast team alongside Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson. The tournament begins Tuesday with the First Four in Dayton, Ohio.