I thought about these questions after hearing a story from my friend. Someone was spreading dirt about him at his job. He thought of confronting the guy, but decided to sit down with the boss to vent. Another friend who was listening to our conversation shook his head while saying: "Dude, it's business; you always need to stay calm and professional. Don't let them see you sweat."
At first I found myself nodding in agreement with the advice, but then had to stop and say "Wait - aren't there times that you need to show emotion, and get up in someone's grill?"
Strangely, the story reminded me of the recent Barney's episode, in which the company was accused of racial profiling; and the flack that JayZ, a celebrity face for the brand, has been getting for his response.
The New York Times article JayZ's Blueprint didn't Call for this reports that, while brands can be tarnished by association with celebrities gone wild:
… this time it’s different… it’s the celebrity whose carefully burnished image has been potentially tarnished by a deal with a big company (in this case, Barneys New York) going through a public-relations nightmare of its own….for JayZ, the timing could not have been worse. On Wednesday, he is scheduled to debut … a collaboration that has been heavily promoted by the company in recent months...
He has so far refused to speak publicly about the matter … but in a statement published on his website on Oct. 26, he said he was not earning anything in this collaboration… “I move and speak based on facts and not emotion,” he said. “I haven’t made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys.”
Look, I get that the timing is bad and this is really a big hassle for JayZ. But I think he is getting some poor PR counsel, if he’s getting any at all (I strongly disagree with the flacks quoted in the article).
The reaction seems way too cautious and calculated. I mean what facts about the Barney’s episode, really, are in dispute?
JayZ is a highly visible public figure, an icon. Even if it came at the cost of alienating a corporate sponsor – which might mean a short term loss – a stronger reaction would have sent the message that his principles (which, ostensibly, oppose racial profiling) can’t be compromised and are not for sale.
And, ironically, this would have helped build his (once pristine) image and personal brand, something that could benefit him financially over the long term too.
What to do you think about this episode and public displays of emotion? Do you have any other examples (two, off the top of my head, are: the famous debate question that Michael Dukakis flubbed by answering dispassionately, costing him the 1988 election; and President Clinton’s finger wagging interview with Chris Wallace)?