When Bad Celebrities Happen to Good Brands

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Having a high-profile celebrity love and use your brand is a PR blessing…until that endorser gets wrapped up in a scandal. It’s happened to anyone associated with Tiger Woods, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and others when their scandals made headlines.

The brands we work with have Kim Kardashian hooked on probiotics, Gwyneth Paltrow easing her aches with CBD, Justin Timberlake spreading his favorite nut butter, Harry Styles sporting fitness gear, Jennifer Hudson loving her shapewear, Jessica Alba hydrating with electrolytes, and dozens of others. In fact, many of our clients have celebrities who use their products, talk about them and get photographed with them, but these powerful influencers don’t charge the brands because they genuinely like them and are proud of it. Celebrities like to be associated with brands that make them seem smart, savvy, and healthy.

If you’ve paid the celebrity for the endorsement, you get off easy. You can denounce their behavior and withhold your funds.

An unwanted endorsement from an unpaid celebrity is a little harder to disassociate from. Crimes, racism, sexual misconduct, drugs…such things not only tarnish the reputation of the celebrity, they can banish brands and slash their sales. We love the brands celebrities love because we believe fame and fortune allows them to have the best of everything and we aspire to have that, too. But when that celebrity does something that makes us aspire to be anything but like them, you’ve got a potential PR crisis on your hands. At Trent & Company, we only work for brands we believe in. It’s only natural that people with means and access would believe in our brands too. Our firm is dedicated to moving people to healthier habits, so when anything threatens that progress, we must react.

Brands need to be prepared in case this happens, because it happens more often than usual now that everyone can see everything about everybody with video surveillance, social media, and the confidence of victims coming forward.

Don’t dismiss it. Handle it!

Turn a negative into a positive. Why does this ill-behaved famous person like your brand? Highlight what’s likable about it and all the other more positive influencers who like it too.

Help the cause. Donate product or funds to those impacted by the bad behavior.

Find the bridge. How can you use this bad story about a celebrity to tell a good story about a product?

Use the negative opportunity as a platform, as Paris Hilton did with her sex tapes. Look at her now!

As author Daniel Pink so eloquently said, “Every day we have a choice to be an angel of good or an angel of bad.” There are reasons to get publicity for every product, you just have to extend your tentacles far enough.

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Nancy Trent is a writer and speaker, a lifelong health advocate, a globe-trotting trend watcher and the founder and president of Trent & Company, a New York-based marketing communications firm with an office in Los Angeles. Trent & Company, which launched many fitness brands, grew out of Nancy’s personal commitment to helping people live longer and healthier lives. A former journalist for New York magazine, Nancy has written seven books on healthy lifestyles, serves on the editorial boards of several magazines and travels around the world speaking at conferences and trade shows on trends in the marketplace. She is a recognized expert in PR with more than 30 years of experience creating and managing highly successful campaigns. Nancy can be reached at (212) 966-0024 or through e-mail at nancy@trentandcompany.com. You may also visit www.trentandcompany.com.