Celebrity as Brand

There was Kramer, all lanky slap stick and wild hair, going David Duke on a couple of hecklers. The crowd is stunned, hanging in for a punch line that never comes. Next thing I know, he is on Letterman, all broken up over the whole thing, rambling through an apology that feels more like a shot gun blast than the precise round of a sniper rifle that it should have been.

Today I read about John Kerry finishing last in a temperature poll of political leaders. This comes on the heels of his “botched joke” that equated all U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq to high school flunkies and college drop-outs. It leaves me wondering if there is such a thing as a botched joke in a political world where unscripted statements are a rarity.

These are two blunders by celebrities that come with the heavy consequence of sullied reputations. Not good in arenas where reputation is currency. I wonder if it could have been avoided had these two taken a trip over to Lovemarks.com.

Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi and creator of the Lovemark concept, has long known that celebrities are brands just as Tide, Coke and Snickers are brands. They are built on trust, transparency and targeted communication just like brands. They are susceptible to the same perils as consumer products.

Kramer and Kerry, they lost track of their audience and forgot all of the characteristics that had made them solid brands. They betrayed their respective brand promises with each use of the n-word and with each shot at the brave men and women serving their country.

Don’t worry boys. There is a way out. It is called Crisis Communications.

For a look at the right way to cultivate a celebrity brand, look no further than People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, George Clooney.
Photo courtesy of chrispknight, flickr.

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