On Saturday, I went and saw War of the Worlds. Worlds was a good adaptation of a good novel. But, despite the marketing machine behind it, two of my friends didn’t come because of Tom Cruise’s recent antics. Some have said that the film’s success proves that the public can separate an actor’s private life from his work. Yet, everyone was talking about the Lauer-Cruise interview. Maybe the percentage was small, but there are those who didn’t go because of it.
Can a person’s actions be a liability to a company? One could point to Steve Jobs or Michael Eisner, but their criticism hasn’t been of a personal nature. The big business personalities don’t get the same scrutiny that celebrities do. But, when those celebrities are tied to business, like an actor in a film or a spokesman in a commercial, the backlash to a company can be huge. Remember Madonna’s incident with Pepsi?
In the last few decades the fields of business and entertainment have been inextricably tied together. With endorsements, sponsorships, and alliances, companies have become bound to the fickle nature of celebrity and public opinion. Is the gamble worth it? When is using a celebrity the wrong way to market?