Monday, 21 January 2013

Lance Armstrong and Nike.


The problem with celebrity endorsement in advertising is that you're banking on human frailty. It's a real quick way to get credibility and cachet for your brand but a super fast way to lose it.

Once celebs get accused of something, they're tainted goods. I was involved in a campaign for Suzuki cars for example, featuring Ronaldo at a cost of 1 million  stg. Then he was accused of rape, just as the campaign launched and we spent the week editing him out and re-shooting it. But, in some ways, the damage is done once you start announcing it.

Tiger Woods moments also cost him dearly but cost his sponsors too, like Nike, who had so much aligned themselves to him. Michael Jackson child abuse charges caused problems for Pepsi - clearly.

And yet at the time, no one was more sponsorable than Tiger Woods and Michael Jackson - both clean, home living boys it was thought.

And so too Lance Armstrong. Clean living, cancer survivor, good looking champion of 7 Tour De France. The All-American boy but now we know differently. Although I watched the Oprah interview and I have to say, I saw redemption although few did. A new honesty that will help him re-build his brand, I think.

Worse still, his featuring in a Nike commercial actually gets Lance to say "What am I on?" ....."I'm on my bike". Yep, sure, almost defying the rumours. Which of course now, makes it worse and makes it viral again to Nike's chagrin.

And that's the problem. People.

We all make mistakes, we all do things we shouldn't and when a brand puts its future in the hands of those human frailties, it takes a chance. A really high profile chance that it probably should never take. Nope, probably never.

If you're going to enter these endorsement stakes, spread the risk - by sponsoring a team rather than a person.

There's safety in numbers.