Thursday, March 29, 2012

ESPN rejects commerical, driver loses sponsorship

Per, ESPN rejected the advertisement from Blake Koch’s sponsor, the Rise Up and Register Campaign, which is designed to educate people about the importance of registering to vote in upcoming elections.

Koch said the network rejected the advertisement, in part, because of his religious activism. A devout Christian, the 26-year-old driver often speaks at churches on race weekends, at numerous religious outreach events and on television shows.

“Their whole campaign was to run that commercial on ESPN, and they wanted to get in front of the NASCAR fans,” Koch said about his sponsor in a phone interview Thursday. “They didn’t care about any other network.

"We found out Friday at Daytona (in February) that they weren’t going to air the commercials due to political and religious overtones, and they said particularly on (my) website.”

While the campaign's website does not promote specific religions, it does include links to Koch's site, which promotes his ministry and other religious programs.

ESPN issued a statement Thursday, saying, “The spot did not meet our guidelines in regard to advocacy messaging. Blake Koch’s personal religious beliefs played no role in our evaluation.”