What if Speechwriters Took Cues from Sports Announcers?

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Are we close to the day when a President’s State of the Union is peppered with sponsor teases?

A mention of healthcare, for example, prompts the President to say: “Speaking of healthcare, let me pause to thank Lipitor, a key sponsor tonight, which lowers bad cholesterol and it’s clinically proven to blah blah, blah.”

This may sound ridiculous, but not if NFL play-by-play announcer Kevin Kugler was writing presidential speeches. In yesterday’s Bears-Seahawks game on Westwood One Radio, it was stunning how he squeezed in sponsor promos in the middle of live action play.

In the first quarter, while the Bears drove down the field, Kugler didn’t even wait for a break in the action to plug H & R Block.

Nearly out of breath from describing the Bears’ running back’s push towards the end zone, Kugler added: “Wow! What a block from Jay Cutler! Speaking of block, it’s nearly tax season. Consider H&R Block before filing your taxes.”

As part of the listening audience, I felt like my brain was blindsided by a left tackle. Where did that come from?

Kugler’s play-by-play partner Mark Malone even sarcastically commented seconds later, saying something like: “Good job in squeezing that sponsor in there.”

Kugler’s abrupt H&R Block pitch made me feel like the first time I saw the final scene of the Sopranos series finale, arguably the most talked about ending. When you’re expecting a blood-bath, the screen just goes black… on purpose!

Squeezing an ad into play-by-play is nothing new. The San Francisco Giants announcers often use a pitching change as an opportunity to plug an oil change sponsor. … When it’s time to make a change, go to Speedee Oil Change.

However, there is a big difference: usually the Giants’ sponsor plugs are during dead air time, not in the middle of live action.

Kugler’s pitch during live action was a train-wreck to the listening audience.

I sure hope President Obama’s Director of Finance was not listening to the game on Westwood One and thinking, “Sponsor teases in the speech? Awesome. That can help lower the budget deficit!”

We’ll see on January 25.

This blog post is brought to you by Advil… Advance Medicine for Pain Caused by Abrupt Trauma to the Head.

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