ESPN drops ad campaign that was to portray college stereotypes
By Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY
ESPN canceled plans Thursday for a TV ad campaign touting its college basketball coverage after learning that the actors were to depict sometimes crude stereotypes of students at specific colleges.
A leaked memo from Anomaly, a New York agency that has produced past ESPN ads, described a casting call for actors in which it sought someone to portray a Tennessee student as "a slutty girl who would hang out at the cowgirl hall of fame" and a Notre Dame student who is "an Asian kid ... who's always fighting."
The concept of the ad was to have students working at an ESPN call center, representing their schools as they phoned people to try to get them to watch ESPN college basketball coverage.
The campaign was killed as soon as the memo leaked. "Our marketing department just learned of this casting call today," said ESPN's Mike Soltys. "The language and approach reflected in that document were not approved by us and in no way represent ESPN or the respect we have for the college community."
In the memo, which first appeared on awfulannouncing.com, the "defining characteristic" of the Marquette student is that "you don't really remember her." The Kansas student "takes great pains to point out that Kansas is very cosmopolitan." Syracuse would need a "Jewish kid" who loves college — "all you can eat buffets in the cafeteria, who knew?"