Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice who just a few months ago couldn’t afford a warm meal, has had a sudden rise to fame. He was discovered by a reporter who posted his voice on a video clip online. Life has not been the same for Mr. Williams since, but with all the recent controversy and bad press, will the fairy-tale story end badly?
Would you take a chance on hiring him to represent your brand? Well, good luck trying to afford him these days. He has done voice overs for Kraft and MSNBC and is being pursed by many others like Oprah and ESPN. He has also reportedly been offered a 5 second appearance in a Super Bowl commercial.
Our culture has become so tired of celebrities and their bad behavior that endorsements no longer drive sales like they once did. Consumer skepticism of endorsements was confirmed when the Tiger Woods scandal broke. Will we see Ted Williams lucrative endorsement deals evaporate as his secret life mysteriously unfolds?
For me, it is a bit different with Mr. Williams. By my very nature, I am always rooting for the underdog. I want Mr. Williams to succeed, purchase the house of his dreams and never go hungry again! But alas, our 24/7 news combined with social media platforms has made it impossible for anyone who is thrown in the spotlight to keep any secrets!
The moral of the story? To protect your corporate reputation, no celebrity should totally define your brand. Your corporate brand should be supported with messages that speak about its unique product benefit and selling point. Focus on the benefits NOT features that really matter to your customer! Celebrities will come and go, but your brand reputation lasts forever.
We just learned, the Tuesday before posting this article, that Ted Williams checked himself out of rehab after less than two weeks in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Should we propose a toast to Mr. Williams or would that be in bad taste?