LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
Controversy Over Advertising At NFL Kickoff Celebration
Aired September 4, 2003 - 19:34 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: The National Football League is launching its 2003 season with star power, patriotism, and some controversy. The Washington Redskins host the New York Jets in the season's first game tonight. A huge pregame concert is going on right now on Washington's National Mall. Patty Davis is there. Patty, great assignment. Give us the picture.
PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a great assignment. Well, Daryn, the controversy is not about the performers like Mary J. Blige, Britney Spears, Aerosmith, who are performing here this evening in this kickoff concert, it's about the publicity that the corporate sponsors are receiving.
DAVIS: The talent, preparing for tonight's concert is big name. Organizers of the NFL kickoff extravganza on Washington's National Mall are hoping for hundreds of thousands of people despite the threat of rain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's brought to you by Pepsi Vanilla.
DAVIS: But here on the historic National Mall where Martin Luther King delivered his famous "I Have A Dream Speech" it is these big advertisements from corporate sponsors Pepsi Vanilla and Reebok that have critics crying foul.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It belongs at Fedex field or it belongs in the other areas dedicated to football and to private enterprise and to advertising and marketing. Not in this public space.
DAVIS: In fact, the National Park Service prohibits advertising on Washington's Mall. But the park service calls the sponsor signs and commercials to be broadcast along with the Redskins-Jets game on jumbotron sponsor recognition, not advertising.
The event also honors U.S. military men and women and voluntarism in America. The NFL, which is used to staging big events, last year it shut down New York's Time Square for the season's kickoff party, says the public wins as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been able to provide the public over the last four days with a free event here on the National Mall, been able to give them a taste of the National Football League that they may only see on Sundays.
(END VIDEOTAPE) DAVIS: The Park Service says it has allowed advertising on a smaller scale on the Mall before, but nothing on this magnitude. But critics who say the National Mall was intended for protests, public gatherings, free expressions, they worry that we're going to have this forever altered here on the mall. This event setting the stage for future events of the same magnitude with advertising -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Plenty of fans there look like they're not too concerned about that and there to cheer on one of America's favorite sports.
Patty, thank you for that. We're going to have more on the kickoff celebration coming up.
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