While the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir points out any discussion of Saturday’s tragic events in a Tucson, AZ grocery was considered surplus to requirements for ESPN’s BCS announcing team of Kirk Herbsteit and Brent Musburger, USA Today’s Michael McCarthy considers whether or not Musburger is an adept improvisor…or just a complete and utter whore.
Musburger made some viewers groan last night when he set up Auburn’s winning field goal try in the Tostitos BCS National Championship game with a seemingly shameless plug for the title sponsor. “This is for all the Tostitos,” intoned Musburger before Auburn’s Wes Bryum booted the game-winning kick against Oregon.
Justin Lambeth, vice president of marketing for Frito-Lay North America believes Musburger ad-libbed the line on his own. “We didn’t have anything to do with it. We were just fortunate.” he says.
ESPN did not ask Musburger to utter the line either, says spokesman Josh Krulewitz. “Absolutely not. He was having some fun.”
Is Tostitos worried about a consumer backlash to the plug that’s gone viral on the Internet — and may go down with Chico Bail Bonds’ sponsorship of the fictional Bad News Bears as one of the most memorable product placements in sports history?
“Clearly, some consumers will say, ‘Well Gosh, what a shameless plug for Tostitos or for Frito-Lay.’ The fact that we had nothing to do with it, the fact that it was literally Brent’s idea, I think consumers will give us leeway on that,” Lambeth answers. “I think more consumers than not will find it very clever and funny versus saying, ‘Gosh, what a cheesy plug.’ Again, we didn’t have anything to do with it.”