When a Pitchman and a Brand Strike Out

Your campaign is about to launch and you’ve identified the perfect spokesperson who will connect with your audience. This person has strong media appeal and major media outlets want him/her on air. As a PR professional, it’s great to have national interest in your spokesperson. But with the wide reach now afforded by social channels, it’s more important than ever that clients understand what makes the ideal spokesperson interesting isn’t so much the product pitch, but his/her overall appeal. If your client expects a commercial about the new product on Good Morning America – buy a spot. Most consumers will remember seeing (or hearing) your spokesperson and remember why they were on, the logo on their shirt or the contest or product they referenced. But if you expect a full segment just about your brand, you’re set up for disappointment. Just ask San Diego-based Qualcomm about their work with New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey.

Matt Harvey Strikes Out Harvey recently agreed to work with the telecomm company on their FANTASKING Program, a social media-driven effort where fans can submit photos from Major League Baseball games for a chance to win tickets to Opening Day 2014. The Qualcomm PR team was able to secure an interview on The Dan Patrick Show, one of the top national sports-talk radio shows in the country.

Harvey was on for an eight-minute segment to talk baseball, the New York Mets, his recent injury and the new consumer contest. What should have been a great interview turned sour when Harvey refused to answer questions about his arm and told the host he was there to talk about Qualcomm. It sent the interview off the rails, and media backlash has been massive.

Harvey later apologized on Twitter.

What was to be an interview with an athlete that would end with a very nice plug for a fan-driven contest on a program that tons of baseball fans listen to and likely would remember, turned into a sarcastic post-commentary by the host that left both the athlete and the brand with mud on their faces.

Celebrities bring a lot of great exposure to brands and campaigns because of their mass appeal. But as brand managers and marketers, knowing the rules of the game when it comes to media relations has never been more important, especially in the age of social media. If you need help navigating the new media landscape, contact us.

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