How Do You Handle an Interview That Veers Into Branding Territory?

By Kevin Eck 

After the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl, QB Peyton Manning told CBS Sports sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson all he wanted to do was kiss his wife and drink a lot of Budweiser.

So what do you do when an interview come dangerously close to becoming a commercial?


“Ask yourself this: Are they answering the questions you want with a modicum of truth and then slipping in their brand?” says Reel Media Group’s Bram Weinstein. “If so, it’s up to you and your station how much is too much? But if this person is deftly, or in some cases not so deftly avoiding giving you any reasonable answer and clearly directing everything to the language of advertising, shut it down.”

You are the one who ends up looking foolish here because the viewer can see right through transparency. This is what was so shocking about what Peyton did. Does he think they viewers are that stupid that they don’t understand what he did? Of course, if doing that didn’t have an expected ripple effect of increased business, Budweiser and Peyton wouldn’t have agreed to whatever they agreed to.

Remember this, you are being used here. Just know what the score is before the interview begins. When we got a guest that I knew had to get in a mention of a product I often told them beforehand that I promised to ask them about it in the course of the interview in the hope that I wouldn’t have a conversation with someone who was ignoring everything else. This worked most of the time and I always kept my promise. Like I said, know the score.

If however the person is being interviewed and it’s clear they have an agenda that wasn’t part of the initial agreement to speak, shut them down quickly. Your viewers will thank you for not allowing someone to turn your content into an advertisement. Remember, we are conduits of journalism. If we allow ourselves to get used, our credibility is collateral damage and that is not damage you can survive and grow with. It comes off as you are complicit with the ad concept.