Does Bad Behavior = Bad Brands?

kanyewestWow, between the shenanigans of Kanye and Serena this has been quite a week!

Has their bad behavior done permanent damage to their brands?

Or is it just part of who they are?

Both of these celebrities have built personal brands that are purposely outside of the lines (no foot fault pun intended here).

But have they gone too far?

I think so.

It’s one thing to cultivate a rebel image by expressing yourself through your art (whether it’s music or tennis).

It’s quite another thing to attack the innocent bystander.

In the case of Kanye/Taylor I think it’s pretty obvious that Taylor is having the last laugh.

The notoriety and sympathy after the VMA incident has undoubtedly raised her brand profile and brand awareness beyond her core audience.

From the interview I saw on “The View” she came across as gracious, with more of a sense of humor than I had previously given her credit for.

The other winner was of course Jay Leno who got an unexpected ratings boost for his new show with his exclusive on Kanye’s apology.

Although the world of music seems to be fueled by bad behavior – so maybe this will either blow over or give him more cred.

I’d be more worried as a corporate sponsor of Serena.

I could almost accept the “heat of the moment” argument. After all, it was a horrendous call at a very inopportune moment.

However, what I found most appalling (and potentially brand damaging) was her refusal afterwards at the press conference to apologize.

She made a big statement about learning from her mistakes but seemed to omit the biggest mistake of all…which was losing her cool and berating someone publically for doing her job.

I know she apologized the next day on her website, but it felt like too little too late.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?
Is bad behavior bad for brands or is it just par for the course?



0 thoughts on “Does Bad Behavior = Bad Brands?

  1. It’s such an interesting question. We had some fun with it and sent this letter of advice to Kanye via TMZ.

    Dear Mr. West,

    It seems the MTV Video Music Awards provided yet another platform for you to inform the music industry, press and fans about why you are an authority on all things music…and life in general. We recognize your great accomplishments and applaud you for such strides. However, after you disrespected a teenage girl onstage at the VMAs, it’s clear you need my help. And if the blogosphere is any indication of where your career is headed, we suggest you take a few pointers about getting to the top…and staying there. With two bestselling books under my belt about career advice, and with my third book, Girl On Top, coming out in October, I know from whence I speak. Here are my tips.

    The Rules According to a GOT

    Keep Your Mouth Shut. Now that you’ve made a jackass of yourself, lay low. The last thing you want to do is remind everyone via Twitter of your mighty indiscretion. Upstaging 17-year-old girls? Really?

    Alcohol should never be your main accessory…especially at industry events. We hear that you were lugging around a Hennessey bottle on the red carpet. Perhaps the extra intake of alcohol is what blurred the lines between common courtesy and common sense. May I recommend taking a back seat when bottle service is provided? In fact, here’s a general rule of thumb for you to follow: If it requires a follow-up apology on Twitter with the words “sippy sippy,” try avoiding it altogether.

    Watch Your Weight. In this case it’s not the size of your ass we’re worried about, it’s your head. You seem to pop up at every award show with something show-stopping to say, but may I remind you that the only award you won last was being that guy at the event. And for such award, musical credentials are not needed.

    Let others have their moment of glory. The ladder of success has room for more than one to climb, Mr. West. And although you’ve been on top quite a few times, let’s not forget that it’s a long hard fall back down to the bottom, where you’ll likely be once everyone writes you off as nothing more than heartless.

  2. Whatever happened to the PR-mantra, “Bad press is better than NO press at all…”

    Too many celebrities (ALL WALKS of celebrities– music, sports, reality, D-listers, et al) are followed ad nauseum by the media because this society feeds off of it. Period.

    If we didn’t buy it on line at the Supermarket, or tune into TMZ.com or follow Perez Hilton on Twitter, than it would NOT be so sensationalized. But because People magazine sells a bazillion copies when Jon & Kate are on the cover, the media continues to fawn all over these types.

    So, why not try a little bad-boy/bad-girl act to get your name on the front page? They are STILL famously wealthy beyond compare for those that gobble-up this garbage. And THAT is the lure, the so-called Fabulous Lives they lead, not the Brand. For these celebrities, their Brand is ever-changing…

    Clearly, jail-birds like OJ & Phil Spector have crossed the lines of acceptable behavior, but short of that kind of crime, this country has a VERY SHORT attention span.

    Personally, I am not a fan of TMZ.com and the similiarly ill-behaved Perez Hilton-fueled Celebrities. The Brand DOES matter to me. But, I believe I am in the minority.

  3. Julie:

    First of all, I love the new look of the site!!

    As to your question, bad behavior does not equal bad brand. Unclear behavior equals bad brand. You’ve got to stand for something and people need to know what that is and how it is different from everything else.

    Yes, you can go to far. But the problem with that is that you have now become unclear.

    Now if you’re really clear about something and nobody wants that, then yes, bad brand.