The recent controversy surrounding Jared Fogle of Subway fame points out the rewards and risks of hiring a spokesperson.
- The energy that comes with borrowing the celebrity’s fame and fortune for building your brand equity and business.
- Expanded awareness associated with his appearances for your brand and his daily life, especially using your product.
- The credibility that he demonstrate by using and benefiting from your product. This was especially powerful with Jared and his weight loss.
The risk is that any transgressions can affect your brand’s reputation and ultimately your business. Subway is one of the top 3 franchises for now.
So what do you do to assure your brand manages the risks during a controversy with a spokesperson? Here is some advice:
- A morals clause in a contract is so obvious, but it is mandatory with any celebrity agreement.
- A crisis plan to ensure that you can manage issues associated with your brand and spokesperson.
- Comprehensive review online and with experts to understand the character of your spokesperson. Here are some general guidelines on the traits of a strong spokesperson. Jared possessed many of these.
- Monitor anything and everything before, during and after you have hired a spokesperson.
- Prepare to be completely available and honest with media as you manage this issue. Remember, a cover-up is always worse than the crime.
- Suspend your spokesperson, no matter how valuable he or she is, as you investigate and resolve the crisis.
- Dump him you might have to bite the bullet and put brand first. Many brands did so including those who dumped Donald Trump’s after recent errant comments. Don’t forget the brands who ditched Lance Armstrong’s issues that compromised his career and endorsements. You can add Michael Phelps, Paula Deen, Martha Stewart, Brian Williams and Tiger Woods to that list too.
Consumers are so conscious and aware of a brand’s associations that sometimes this is the best course.
Generally, most celebrity spokespeople especially athletes can add business value to your brand. This Harvard Business School Study that found:
“A positive pay-off to a firm’s decision to sign an endorser, and that endorsement are associated with increasing sales in an absolute sense and relative to competing brands. Additionally, sales and stock returns jump noticeably with each major achievement by the athlete. But whereas stock-return effects are relatively constant, sales effects exhibit decreasing returns over time.”
That doesn’t mean you get star struck or beholden to someone. Be ready to aggressively protect your reputation regardless of the person’s star power.
Rest assured, your customers and media will treat you fairly if you do so.
How are you managing your relationships with celebrity spokespeople to ensure you protect your brand reputation and business?
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