Poorly chosen spokesmen create crisis management scenario

Every time an organization chooses a celebrity spokesperson it runs a risk of reputation damage due to that person’s words or actions. A formerly-golden celeb can become a detriment to your reputation overnight (think Lance Armstrong), but typically thorough research will eliminate candidates that simply won’t work.

Of course, sometimes there’s a situation where you can tell someone simply didn’t do the legwork before making a decision. Our overseas colleague Tony Jaques brought just such a case to our attention in which, in his words, the irony is simply “delicious.”

Here’s the rundown, from a Mumbrella article:

KFC’s summer campaign has been hit by the awkward revelation that one of its new brand ambassadors is a supporter of vegetarianism.

The campaign, revealed yesterday by Mumbrella, is fronted by the Madden brothers Joel and Benji from punk-pop band Good Charlotte. The band has previously been linked with demos carried out against KFC by animal rights group PETA.

And a video interview with Benji Madden uploaded to YouTube in 2009 features him saying: “I had no idea. I was one of those people going ‘Why are you vegetarian, that’s stupid’ all of a sudden I realised what I was going on. I was, like, wow, sign me up.”

Thanks to some less-than stellar research, KFC is getting its spokesperson with a large side of embarrassment. Not only did Internet sleuths turn up Benji Madden’s past within hours, but the always-vocal PETA also jumped in to make sure the word was spread.

Not all of crisis management is speaking to the press and making waves on social media. As this case demonstrates, neglecting to set a strong foundation through research and planning is asking for trouble.