Freedom of Advertising?

Whether you’re a sports junkie or not, you may have heard that LeBron James is going to announce his next professional basketball career move on ESPN, tonight.

All you LeBron and NBA haters can stop rolling your eyes.

LeBron laid down some stipulations that ESPN accepted in exchange for tonight’s interview (one of which was that LeBron got to select the reporter to interview him). Read all about it in THIS AdAge article.

The resulting media hype that’s unfolded since has been fascinating to watch.

Another of LeBron’s stipulations was he got to select which advertisers would be “sponsors” of tonight’s program. On a cool note, proceeds from the program will reportedly go to the Boys & Girls Club of America.

I don’t suppose that would make a difference to any of the advertisers who were ready and willing, however, to purchase advertising spots for this particular evening’s program. And this raises an interesting issue.

Freedom of the press is an issue people in our country vehemently support. But what about freedom of advertising?

What might start happening if starving media outlets increasingly agree to give superstar athletes and even C-list celebs all the coverage in the world if those celebs bring enough advertising power with them? (Imagine if the likes of Britney Spears and that horrible boy who impregnated Bristol Palin dominated the airwaves!!!!!)

On the one hand I come to expect “infotainment” from outlets like ESPN, and I truly don’t mind what they’ve allowed LeBron to do tonight (that may just be because baseball is the only sport on and I need some sports-related drama).

On the other hand, I don’t think this proposition is too far-fetched for corporate-owned media outlets who, at the end of the day, need to make money too.

We’ll see if LeBron and ESPN’s agreement for tonight’s event set any precedent in the future. And in the meantime, get your news from diverse sources and appreciate the range of advertisers as well.

Up Next


This post is a follow-up to what I wrote yesterday about ESPN’s insanely hyped-up hour-long “special” on LeBron’s big decision.…

Drake Cooper
Drake Cooper
July 9, 20103 min read