A rush of insensitive remarks and ‘off the cuff’ comments in the land of the famous has really hit home the idea that increasingly nothing is “off the record”.
While people such as ITV’s Midsomer Murders producer, Brian True-May, are still tripping themselves up in an interview setting, others like Burger King’s chief executive Bernardo Hees are making ill advised comments they believe to be unofficial.
The incident, where Hees told a group of college students that British food was awful and that the women were unattractive (an attempt at humour), was reported in the US and it wasn’t long before British people and women everywhere became offended, leaving the brand a little worse for wear.
While social media helped to spread this story, there is also no such thing as ‘off the record’ online. Twitter and other social networking sites are frequently breaking news stories quicker than traditional media and a story can travel around the world in minutes. Celebrities are increasingly more accessible and without an editing filter, some celebrities have been caught out for what they have posted on these types of sites.
Back in January, former Liverpool player Ryan Babel became the first footballer to be reprimanded by the FA when he posted a mock-up picture on Twitter of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United top, after a 1-0 defeat.
Shoe designer Kenneth Cole also put his foot in it during the Cairo riots in February when he attempted to use the trending Cairo hashtag (#cairo) to promote his latest spring collection on Twitter:
‘Millions are in uproar in #cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available’
The message was retweeted, commented on, reported and quickly spread around the world. Many former fans claimed they would never buy a pair of his shoes again. Cole issued an apology.
50 Cent should have thought of Cole’s experience before his attempt at humour during the Japanese tsunami. The ‘jokes’ left people around the world outraged and the rapper issued an apology and took down the offensive posts.
Some celebrities seem to have forgotten that they are representatives of a brand. Their actions are scrutinised all over the world and nothing is ever ‘off the record’.
The above remarks would never have seen the light of day if clear strategies for engaging with social media had been implemented.