Bingle bungle or Clinglegate – it’s pretty bad whatever you call it

I know, I know… we should just put it down, and walk away from it… And I will after this.

The confounding of the personal and the private, and the commodification of something so abusive (the publication of the photo)  in this whole shemozzle is the most interesting aspect, and even though I was on a forum on Sunrise Weekend today, we didn’t get to really talk about this. With the news that one of the family members was trying to “sell” their side of the story it has all started to smell a bit Corby family to me. Anyway, here are my responses to the questions from the hosts, and also some additional thoughts.

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Questions from Weekend Sunrise

0715 – Andrew (interviewer)

Paul, if you we didn’t know who Lara Bingle was before all this, you certainly do now. Has the past fortnight’s events influenced her long-term career prospects at all?

I think they have. And I’m not sure that Lara has come out of it looking too good. I’d also question the power of the Bingle brand without Michael Clarke. We’ve already seen that Synergy drinks can no longer see any synergy between their brand, with Michael Clarke and Lara. And I guess that sums up Lara’s brand equity – when you think about it, she has had a really successful couple of years, and really moved above and beyond the awful “Where the bloody hell are you?” campaign, to become a personality brand, but it’s been her connection with Michael Clarke, who is the Vice Captain of the national cricket team, that has really contributed to her equity. But like all brands, it is the market’s perception that defines what your brand is, and the market is fickle, particularly when it comes to people branding – politicians are great examples of what happens when reality gets in the way of the fantasy of the brand, and I think we’ve seen here a clash of the fantasy and the reality.

Paul. She’s obviously getting media advice from her manager Max Markson. Many say it’s been bad advice. How do you think he’s handled his client?

Well, I think that’s the really disappointing aspect of this whole saga. I don’t think it’s been handled well – and the public can sniff a stunt. Obviously it is disgraceful that Brendan Fevola took the photo against her wishes, and then distributed in some way. But when Women’s Day said that they were going to dredge up the photo again, a good manager would have managed the media in a more sophisticated way. A good manager would have been criticising the magazine, not giving them a story – regardless of whether Lara was paid or not. I am sure that this was not Max’s plan, but what he has done is confused the personal and private elements of the saga with a commercial opportunity, and the public, rightly, thinks that it stinks. And the issue is perception – regardless of whether Max sold the story to Woman’s Day, the public believes that he did, and also believe that Lara is involved, and so when it comes to public figures, perception is truth. If I had been advising Lara, I would have had a strategy in place, but I wouldn’t have gone to the same magazine that was destroying my client’s life.

0810 (Sam – interviewer)
Marketing expert Paul Harrison joins us this morning. So does Morning Show psychologist Jo Lamble , WHO magazine editor Nicky Briger and Simon Reeve.
Paul, can we expect to see companies wanting to align themselves with Lara now?

Well we’ve already seen in the past 24 hours that they have been dumped as the faces of Synergy Drinks, having done a steamy photo shoot to represent the brand in an endorsement deal reportedly worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, which is a reasonable thing – obviously Synergy – the brand says it all – could see that there was no synergy between Lara and Michael, so it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to continue the deal. But I think we also need to come to terms that part of Lara’s appeal was that she was engaged to the Vice-Captain of the Australian Cricket team. So, when you are thinking about her brand, all of these little elements combine to make up how we perceive brand Bingle. I would think that Lara would need to wait some time before she can be connected, as her brand Lara, with other brands, if she stopped seeking publicity today, and the media leaves her alone, then – and if she really wants to get on with her life – I would be advising her to leave a buffer of at least three months before she does any promotional work  – but there is hope… Maybe she could endorse Rheem Hot Water systems, or maybe work on one of the State’s Water Saving campaigns…

0910 – Andrew and Sam

Paul, Lara’s public profile was on the rise. Is she still ‘marketable’?

I would think that Lara would need to wait some time before she can be connected with other brands. If she avoided all publicity from today, and the media leaves her alone, then I would be advising her to leave a buffer of at least three months before she does any promotional work, she could head off to Tunbridge Wells and take the waters  – but there is hope… I’m thinking Palmolive Body Wash. And I actually think that it would be a good fit – it would show that she has a sense of irony, and I reckon Australian’s would respond quite positively to that.

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