Well, they couldn’t stay squeaky clean forever could they?
Let’s remove opinion about their music and have a look at this in a PR context. Britain’s latest x-factor global export has been milking the boy band cash cow for a solid 4 years. Without a doubt they have created an extremely strong brand that transcends language and cultural barriers. Merchandise has gone nuts as every teen worth their salt grapples for a piece of the 1D phenomenon. Their initial stakeholder targeting of the youth pop market was tried and tested and worked to rocket them into the global limelight. But like their child-hood starlet predecessors, Britney, Bieber, Lohan and even Take That, eventually the sugar coating wears off.
Stakeholder salience theory was adhered to but they have fallen in to the classic trap. Salience theory does not consider stakeholder changes over time. Not only do you have a rapidly evolving 1D audience (Yes, boys now like them too!) but the audience and the band itself is growing up. How do the young men evolve from their boyish pop persona? Why of course, like many before them they will play with the boundaries of what’s socially acceptable. The chaps are apparently pictured with a rather large joint. We could discuss the drug debate but that’s opening up another can of worms’ altogether. Let’s not go down that slippery slope on this occasion. There’s a lot of other ethical concepts and consideration to be made here. What this does do though is tarnish their whiter than white image. Will you still love them if they are ‘bad boys’? If their PR team does a good enough job at fixing their reputation you will!
Not even an exclusive Radio One Big Weekend interview could shy the media away from the content in a leaked video taken in Peru (I can’t verify the video, these opinions are all my own etc!). If you haven’t seen it. Have a peek here.
As a role model to children and teens everywhere, it’s impossible to measure the effect this will have as their reach is so large. Louisot and Rayner state that good reputation is achieved when expectations are consistently met or exceeded. So far for 1D that’s been golden, however this little escapade has planted the seeds of doubt. I’m pretty sure that any parent in any country will not condone drug use (whether the band were smoking drugs or not, the connotation and implications are enough to instigate parent alarm bells). Will this have an impact on their popularity and reputation? Only time will tell.
I can’t even say I’m surprised at this ‘revelation’. They aren’t the first or the last. No doubt someone somewhere is being fired for leaking the footage, unless it was the band member themselves, in which case, smacked wrists from the management team are coming your way! Simon Cowell has a kid of his own now, might this cause him to consider how much pressure he’s putting on the continually touring band? Can we blame the management and unrelenting work schedule? Or perhaps you think ‘lucky so and so’s living the dream’? Whatever your opinion, can you say you are surprised or shocked?
My biggest shock came at the two band members sneering at their fans. Lads, don’t forget who pays the bills, it’s those kids and the parents with the pennies. You could easily be outranked by a cartoon pig in the blink of an eye. Fame is fickle.
I’m sure there are some media moguls who have been working very hard round the clock to create a strategy to deal with this crisis and to repair the damage to the 1D brand. Perhaps I’m wrong and they are revelling in even more coverage. All publicity is good publicity, right?
If they do try and repair any damage that’s been done I wonder what path they will take? Will they acknowledge it in a carefully scripted PR statement or press release? More charitable activities? Or perhaps they will brush it under the carpet as ‘just a cigarette, the boy’s were just mucking about!’? Public relations, reputation management and crisis communications are clearly key to repairing damage but it leads me to think what apsects and skills must be drawn upon as a new PR practitioner. Does the added dimension of ‘celebrity’ change how you would deal with the situation compared to an organisation or service? Crisis communications state that communication is key but we are yet to hear anything from the 1D camp. It’s been a wee while now, time’s a ticking team Syco! It will be interesting to see how they handle this matter and how they recover and rebuild the damage caused to their reputation. Lessons to be learnt by all.
(I will add that this is just an opinion on activities that may or may not have happened, before one of 1D and Syco’s legal team beat me financially into oblivion. My main concern is with the PR activity and what actions you should take in a crisis to repair brand reputation when it’s damaged.)
At the moment you cannot avoid it. There is even a song about it. From no make up versions to power pouts, it’s a trend you can’t seem to escape and it looks like it’s going to be around for a while.
Love them or hate them, you have to question what kind of culture they are fostering online? And is it restricted to gender? Tragically a man recently became a selfie recluse and tried to kill himself when he couldn’t obtain what he deemed to be the perfect picture. It’s an extreme example, but an example none the less. This sounds like it has taken the form of addiction but in the case of Eat Pray Love star, James Franco, he know’s exactly what he’s doing. An article in Marie Claire has researched that he is full aware that in the age of hyper-connectivity and online noise, attention is power. Cornelissen, author of Corporate Communciations: a guide to theory and practice, identifies a power, urgency and legitimacy model when it comes to stakeholder salience. People taking selfies can become powerful stakeholders if they gain adequate enough attention. Last night James Franco posted an almost nude and very odd selfie and removed it an hour later (Marie Claire have captured it though, take a look). What did it create? Attention, everyone’s currently talking about…James Franco. Everyone will be paying attention to his twitter account for a little while, so whatever he says is going to have an enhanced focus and a larger reach and therefore when you are trying to be heard amongst the crowd this can be a powerful tool. Large companies are starting to recognise that they could potentially be a profitable trend too. Samsung have identified that selfies are powerful and have decided to capitalise upon it releasing a selfie-specific camera. To be fair, the camera is actually very cool, with some super features, but it does lead to asking the question what or where next for the selfie?
There is also the element of people who are fishing for compliments. Cancer Research UK not only identified this trend but also harnessed it as a PR campaign, which ultimately used vanity PR and converted it into direct donations, the charities main aim. It played upon women empowerment, image and personal identity. By women posting not only were they saying they were confident enough to show the world their face make up free, warts and all but they could also align themselves with being a better person, it just screamed ‘Look everyone, not only am I confident, but I’m generous!’ Through the nominations aspect, other women questioned their peers, willing them to participate, but are they really asking ‘Are you a confident and generous person too?’ No one wants to be seen as insecure or a scrooge! Ultimately it generated a lot of money for charity, which can only be a good thing, I’m just not sure I fully agree with the method, but no one can deny it was a clever PR campaign.
Having not grown up in the age of the selfie I can’t help but think of the impression it may have had on me. Teen Vogue take a psychological stance and address the issue of low self esteem recommending a shift in perspective if all you are looking for are comments. The advice they give is healthy, they don’t say selfies are bad but to make sure they are fun and avoid excessive use. I think it’s important that influencers like Teen Vogue do put out positive messages like this so there is some guidance for people growing up in an ever-image obsessed world. The ‘What I see’ project discusses both sides of the selfie but within a feminist context with a dose of philosophical musings and makes for a very interesting contribution to the debate.
Grace Dent who writes for The Independent also makes the argument that selfies are about self-branding, celebrity-alignment, social climbing and proof of happiness. The more I read the more negative it gets. Are there positive aspects to the selfie? Perhaps I don’t understand the selfie. Do we need to prove to other people that we are happy? What constitutes happiness? Do people want to see others pouting in front of the camera?
What do you think?
Share your comments below, or if you find any good articles or points of view please post them too!
Found this picture of my time working at MAC cosmetics, part of Estee Lauder Companies. IMATS is one of the biggest UK make up events and it was a privilege to represent the PR team and MAC PRO professional make up artist scheme at the event in 2011.
Dreaming of ‘that’ job? Want to catch a companies attention?
Well this is one of the ways to do it…
Recently Leah Bowman applied for a vacancy with this…
WOW. I mean WOW! I wish I had thought of this. There is a new trend evolving for creative applicants to stretch their wings out of the old times new roman, monochrome trappings of the traditional CV and to play in to their strengths…the design world. This is just one in a long line of incredible CV’s that are starting to come to the attention of the media and spreading like wildfire through social media. It’s about time, isn’t it? Too long have we had to fill out endless forms and adhere to strict formatting. Who came up with such a rigid CV format anyway?
What’s even more incredible about this is Leah put all this effort in for an internship. Not even a full time, salaried, benefit giving vacancy. Unfortunately we do not get to see where she sent this application to but I think they would have been mad to not offer her a proper job.
If this is a sign of the future of applications…Viva the CV revolution!