Celebrity scandals damaging company brands
Sexual harassment within the film industry is a topic that has exploded since the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
According to BBC’s timeline of the scandal, it began with an article from The New York Times about the sexual harassment allegation made against Weinstein by the actresses Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd. Since this revelation, Weinstein’s career and public image has suffered. Weinstein has been sacked from his own company and film organisations (such as Bafta, Oscars and Producers Guild of America) have suspended or banned Weinstein’s membership.
Kevin Spacey has now also been accused of sexual assaults that occurred historically and recently. The BBC reported on sexual allegations made against Spacey that date back to the 1980s when the actor reportedly left a the US actor Anthony Rapp (who did not want to be identified) traumatised when ‘Spacey laid down on top of him’.
The Guardian detail recent reports of sexual harassment made ‘by multiple current and former employees of the TV show House of Cards’.
In the latest update, Netflix has fired Kevin Spacey from House of Cards. In a statement, Netflix have said that they ‘will not be involved with any further production of House of Cards that includes Kevin Spacey.’
The news stories about the sexual allegations made against Weinstein and Spacey demonstrate that damage to celebrities’ public image not only affects their own career, but can also affect the brand of companies/films that they are affiliated with.
Netflix made the decision to cut all ties with Kevin Spacey to limit their association with the actor, and by extension his suspected crimes. This decision was made without the intelligence of whether continuing work with Spacey would cause a decline in subscribers – they did not take the chance.
In the same way, Weinstein’s own company fired him to demonstrate that they do not condone his supposed criminal behaviour and to limit the backlash of damage this may do the company.
Aligning a brand with a celebrity is nothing new and scandals surrounding sporting personalities where sponsorship has been dropped, have become commonplace in recent years. We now have a precedent that this type of behaviour is no longer merely morally repugnant, but will have serious financial implications for the employers of these individuals.
A financial incentive has always proven a greater motivator to change behaviour than lobbying and further background checks are likely to be introduced across the film industry.
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