THE WEDLOCK OF CELEBRITY AND CONTROVERSY WORDS BY KEHINDE AJOSE
‘Some stars follow the path of wisdom and restraint—
building sustainable brands, getting credible endorsements, and engaging themselves with uplifting courses—others manage to rumba with controversy ever so often; they are stuck on the mud path, getting their feet soaked in mire that messes up the ultimate perception they desire. Their lives always seem like one hand is dipped in boiling water and the other hand is forever trying to redeem/defend/fight-for-
whatever-is-left-of-their- – worth that has been reduced to crumbs!
A man walked into a restaurant with his friend and was ushered to a dimly lit corner table. Then, two things happened. One of the waiters, an Indian, had his jaw drop and eyes widen in recognition of the man. And the man, in recognition of this recognition, had his attitude transform from one of casual ‘nobodiness ‘ to conscious starriness. The man was Shah Rukh Khan. There are two points to consider here.
Something happens to us when we see a celebrity we cheer, scream, shriek, shout, jeer, or wave out, reacting in different ways. Our reaction implies there is something about the star that demands a response. But something also happens to the star. The line between person and persona gets blurry. And when that occurs on a daily basis, the person can become the persona. For a celebrity to be able to avoid controversy , there has to be a disconnection between the celeb’s person and the persona. Celebrities and controversies are inseparable.
The star life makes it difficult for celebs to stay hooked to the reality of life which sets them up for untold scandals that in turn reduces their brand worth and damages their public perception. A scandal or controversy changes the value of a brand forever. There is a certain value attached to every image that you project, whether a clean one or a promiscuous one. A celebrity can therefore decide to date controversy or embrace living life on the right principles and ethics.
Speaking of how controversy has destroyed promising careers,Rauf Ahmed, a Senior film editor points out the peculiar case of Navin Nischol, the late actor. According to Ahmed, Shashi Kapoor’s role in Deewaar had first been offered to Nischol. “Navin refused to play second fiddle to Amitabh Bachchan. His contention was that he had played a hero to Amitabh’s villain in Parwana in 1971. And look what a disastrous decision it was.
From that point onwards, Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh became the most successful male pairing of the 70s, while Navin’s career never recovered.”Success has destroyed more people than failure. The glamour of success sometimes makes one unteachable and exaggerates one’s self worth. The likes of David O, Tonto Dike, Cossy Orjiakor haven’t been fortunate in this area though they have been able to ride on the controversies that tainted their image. Personalities like Tiger woods, Idris Abdul Kareem, Soul E, Black Faze are still finding it difficult to make a grand comeback in their careers after their rhumba with controversy. When brand ambassadors get caught in something less than epic, companies distance themselves as quickly as possible. Contracts are ended, ads are pulled, and the superstar finds out who their real friends are.
Ben Johnson gave up his 1988 Olympic gold medal and lost a $2.8 million deal with Italian sportswear maker Diadora. Mike Tyson lost millions when Pepsi ended its endorsement deal with Tyson after his wife said he abused her. Pepsi let go of endorsement deals with Magic Johnson after he announced that he contracted HIV in 1991.
Although OJ Simpson was never convicted of the crime, Hertz likely regrets that the main suspect in the Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman murder was once their biggest spokesman. Nutella and McDonald’s dropped their endorsement deals with Kobe Bryant when the basketball star was caught up in a sexual assault case. Steroids helped Barry Bonds break records and also led to MasterCard, KFC, and Charles Schwab breaking endorsement deals with the slugger. Also, after the Woods sex scandal hit the news, AT&T, Accenture and Gatorade soon dropped their endorsement contracts with him. The bottom line is no brand wants to associate herself with someone who won’t help elevate its brand status in the marketplace.
Proverb 22.1 says: ‘A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold’. After all is said and done what you will be left with is your name. Protect and value it. Stay away from anything that will diminish your star appeal and hurt your career.
Kehinde Ajose is a
controversial talent development strategist, motivational speaker, and publicist. Follow him on twitter @splendidkenny.E.mail-