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Recently I had a chance to sit down with my friend, mentor and inspiration John A. Walsh, Executive Editor and Executive Vice President at ESPN. I have made no secret of the impact Walsh had on my professional career, and now I want to share his sage advice with you.

“The reason I have John here today is he’s been a visionary his whole life. He’s a humble man so he won’t like that I said that, but it’s true. The things I want to talk to John about today, which I think is very applicable to my listeners, is talking about why failure is important to success, and if we have time, what the new media means to the old media. ESPN is at the forefront of all the changes taking place. Somehow they always manage to stay ahead of the game. I give a lot of credit to John Walsh, but he would credit a great team and a lot of people that work really hard at ESPN just to keep it really exciting for their users and keep it moving forward. All that being said, I’d like to introduce John today. John, maybe give us a little background, quick overview of where you were. I know you’re a big guy in the print world, and where you were and how you landed at ESPN and what you’re excited about right now that you’re working on that you can talk about.”

Click here to listen to my entire interview with Walsh on my One Click Society radio show broadcast at Positive World Radio Network.

Click here to download the complete transcript of my conversation with John A. Walsh.

Ok, I admit, I used my direct response skills to throw out a controversial headline to get you to read, but before you do, we need to get one thing very clear….

No one, and I mean no one loves the fact that Kraft hired Ted Williams, a homeless person, to be the announcer for their Homeless Bowl on ESPN more than “save-the-world-use-your-power-for-good” me.

Coming from nothing, working as hard as I could for everything I have, and literally giving money to every single homeless person I can, means my heart cheers for Ted – Go Ted go!

What I find odd is many brands are shying away from superstar athletes such as Michael Vick (can’t see him and Purina cutting a deal), Kobe Bryant (being accused of rape doesn’t really push the Rice Crispies like it used to) and now even Tiger Woods (yeah, probably not the next Bruce Jenner on Wheaties)  – which make me want to ask,  “why would Kraft be comfortable with such a “wild card”, an unknown, a man with a reported past substance abuse and who knows what  else (if anything)?

Having worked with brands like Charmin, Puffs, Sunny Delite, Folgers, Crest and many others over the last 20 years, I have seen them buy just about any amount of media they want, whenever they want it.  Not once have i  ever seen them be anything less than overly methodical about it.

Yet, I’m starting to get the uneasy feeling corporate brands see social media platforms and the internet as their personal playgrounds.

Since the cost to play seems so small relative to their normal TV media buys, they can afford to throw their money around.  But do they risk throwing their brand away in the meantime?

It’s important to remember, social media is  much less “controlled” that traditional media buying – it’s much harder to manage customer satisfaction and execute contingency plans when things go haywire.

Which is why it concerns me to see some brand managers and even a few CMOs acting a little like drunken sailors on leave in Vegas (Are they forgetting what happens on Facebook never stays on Facebook?).

The recent race to the most fans makes me wonder, how far will brands be willing to go outside their normal branding borders, exchanging brand equity for  the cheap thrill of hitting it big, in return for all the “free” extra eyeballs.

I’d love to know what you think – will the big boys feel the hangover of their party this year or next?

In the unlikely event you haven’t heard, Mr. Williams was homeless earlier this week, hawking handouts on a Columbus highway. A self-confessed substance abuser and absentee dad, he had all but given up on his former career behind the microphone. That’s when a Columbus Dispatch videographer, on a whim, shot a clip of Williams using his golden baritone. “When you’re listening to nothing but the best of oldies, you’re listening to Magic 98.9!”

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