ANY PUBLICITY IS NOT ALWAYS GOOD PUBLICITY WHEN IT COMES TO BRAND ENDORSEMENT – BY SNOOPY
Yo-Landi in her chappies dress
Celebrities often engage in completely off-centre, controversial stunts in order to raise their public profiles. Whether these stunts result in negative or positive publicity never seems to matter too much to most celebrities, who tend to subscribe to the old adage that any publicity is good publicity. However, when a brand uses a celebrity for sponsorship or a PR stunt, this viewpoint doesn’t always apply.
Studies show that in some cases, using a celebrity for a campaign, whether as a public relations endorsement or part of a sponsorship campaign, may not produce the desired result at all. In fact, when a brand or product seems like a poor match to a celebrity, or vice versa, it was found that consumers only associate the celeb’s negative traits with the product. This can seriously dent a brand’s image with its target audience.
A good is example is the association that Chappies - the iconic South African bubblegum brand targeting kids and teens – has with Yo-landi Vi$$er – the rap artist from the shock music group ‘Die Antwoord’. Chappies recently gifted her with one of its iconic “Did You Know” facts, which reads; “Did you know? 334 Yo-Landi Vi$$er has fellow pop culture icon Chappie the chipmunk tattooed on her arm”. This was done afterthe company spotted a tattoo of the famous mascot on her bicep. @ChappiesZA then tweeted, “Look at what Yo-Landi Vi$$er from Die Antwoord posted about Chappies. Definitely a proudly South African moment!”
Although Chappies was clearly eager to be associated with one of the biggest names in media (and music) right now, I wonder if it stopped to really consider the potential reputational risk to its brand.
Die Antwoord is notorious for its hardcore, screw-you, Zef-style attitude in both lyrics and video content.
The release of the group’s new controversial music video, “Fatty Boom Boom”, stars Vi$$er wearing a yellow dress made entirely of Chappies wrapping paper. Some critics have dubbed the video racist, due to Vi$$er’s head-to-toe getup in black paint, referencing a frowned-upon, stereotyped caricature of a black person used in minstrel shows.
In addition, the video pokes ‘fun’ at pop queen Lady Gaga, played by a transvestite wearing a meat-dress, by portraying her as a tourist being driven through downtown Johannesburg in a taxi. Gaga, the world’s hugest pop star, is “humiliated” at a gynaecologist’s office (I’m sparing you the gory details) then eaten by a lion. Die Antwoord entered into a war of Twitter wordswith the real Gaga, (who was shocked by the music video), calling her “large”; a comment believed to allude to her recent weight gain.
I’m scratching my head as to why Chappies, a popular, nostalgic, colourful and fun brand targeting children (often through various school campaigns), got its target market so muddled in associating itself with the band.
Brand damage can often be much worse when there is an exchange of moola, rather than through inappropriate and opportunistic brand-related stunts.
The recent Lance Armstrong doping scandal saw some of the biggest names in sporting sponsorship deals, such as Nike and Oakley, drop the athlete. Some endorsers say they “wasted $30 million on him”,with sponsors furious at the damage that the scandal has done to their brands. Ad execs note that Nike took way too long in ending its endorsement deal with Armstrong, as doping reports were dominating press headlines for ages until he was found guilty. Delaying such a decision in the midst of a scandal can cost a brand highly, both financially and in terms of perception.
Great publicity stunts and celebrity endorsements can do wonders for a brand, but marketers should ensure they do their homework and consider the reputational risks that these associations can present.