Marketing sponsorships. They’re the necessary lifeblood of any broadcasting company’s existence. Commercials are all well and good, but as we’ve all learned in this post-TiVo world, you better make sure your brand is integrated into the actual program if you want to be seen and noticed.
Of course, that’s not always going to be a good thing, especially if you don’t stop to think about the message you’re sending. You might be encroaching on some hallowed ground in a way that offends those you’re trying to ingratiate yourself with. And a perfect example of that might have been what went down Monday night on ESPN before the Monday Night Football match-up between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills.
During Monday Night Countdown, the crew gathered in the parking lot outside Ralph Wilson Stadium to take part in one of the wildest tailgating scenes in the NFL. They brought a whole bunch of Buffalo wings with them, which sounds like a great idea considering they’re in Buffalo, NY, the place that treasures this homegrown delicacy. The Bad Idea Jeans aspect of all this is that they decided to bring those wings from the show’s sponsor, Applebee’s. And hey, no disrespect to Applebee’s, where one can eat good in the neighborhood, but when it comes to authenticity, they ain’t got it.
The segment itself was your standard football pregame show fair, with the hosts assigning a flavor value of mild, medium, or hot to certain NFL-related topics. On paper, not even a big deal.
However, given the message the segment sends to the entire world, that when you think of Buffalo wings you can think of Applebee’s, a whole lot of people could not get past that.
ESPN crew is eating Applebee’s chicken wings at a Bills pregame tailgate. Applebee’s.
— Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) October 29, 2018
ESPN is promoting Applebees wings at a Buffalo Bills pregame and Im pretty sure the police should be called.
— Brad Mealy (@bmealy17) October 29, 2018
#Bills fans were probably making the same face as @CharlesWoodson during that Applebee’s boneless wing segment. pic.twitter.com/IV5GmUVVLd
— Ryan Talbot (@RyanTalbotBills) October 29, 2018
For those of us who might not be chicken wing aficionados, the crime was even more severe because of the specific way the wings presented were prepared, which doesn’t even match actual Buffalo wing standards. And not to mention…boneless wings? You bring boneless wings to Ralph Wilson?!?!?
Monday Night Countdown comes to Buffalo, eats Applebee’s boneless wings#Bills fans are horrified. https://t.co/BAwSOvyemX
— Prime-time Rumblings (@BuffRumblings) October 29, 2018
Blasphemy! ESPN can never be forgiven for this. That's criminal to Buffalo and everything it stands for. Not only Applebees but friggin' breaded!! https://t.co/ObXBcxASIJ
— Pete Rosen (@PeteRosen3) October 29, 2018
Win or lose, you can rest assured that Bills fans have already chalked this pregame bit up as a Big L.