When you are famous, you become very attractive to sponsors; your public following can drive new consumers to new products or services. One glowing tweet can see sales soar!
However, as Ryan Lochte recently discovered, that fame comes with a downside too as that public following means a life lived in the spotlight where every action is globally scrutinised. Where those actions are not in keeping with the brand perception that the sponsor wishes to portray, that global renown becomes a millstone rather than an asset. Sponsors therefore need to be able to disassociate themselves quickly as soon as the previously beneficial relationship has the potential to cause them harm, be that reputational or financial. For that very reason sponsors will always seek to insert clauses into their agreements that allow termination (at the sponsor’s discretion of course) where the celebrity has over-stepped the line and caused negative publicity.
There are degrees by which that line can be crossed and the sponsor will want the option to terminate instantly or see how things play out; after-all sometimes, as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Where the sponsor decides that a termination is in its best interests, ironically that in itself becomes a newsworthy item which the sponsor can use to repair any perceived damage, or perhaps even allow it to create and promote brand characteristics with which it would like to be associated.
Wherever one stands on the actions of Ryan Lochte, the sponsors have acted quickly and publicly to ensure that their own reputation remains undamaged, or perhaps even slightly elevated.
Four sponsors have dropped disgraced US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, including swimwear manufacturer Speedo and fashion label Ralph Lauren.