Brand Gibson blows up

August 1, 2006

Gibson Mel Gibson has ignited an atomic bomb of negative PR following his DUI arrest Friday. Causing the biggest branding obstacle is not the drunk driving charge but details of the statements he made during his arrest. A belligerent Gibson shouted obscenities and anti-Semitic remarks to law officers. I was interviewed this morning by Soledad O’Brien on CNN regarding the future of Mel Gibson and his brand.

There is no doubt this is going to be a huge obstacle for Mel Gibson to overcome. The future of his brand is in jeopardy. But the fact is that strong brands tend to survive even the worst crisis. Because the power of celebrity and the ability for stars to get PR allows them to come back. Time is also a necessary ingredient in the healing process.  The most Mel can do right now is publicly take responsibility for his actions, ask for forgiveness, seek help for his addictions and do something to help heal wounds. He is doing all four already.

I would recommend that Gibson wait until the fire storm of stories subside before talking publicly. His two statements have made his position clear. Today’s statement was a fast and wise move to help begin a repair process with the Jewish community who is obviously up in arms and unsatisfied with his first statement which didn’t directly address his comments.

The bigger the star the harder they fall. It is the same old story. We love to put celebrities up on a pedestal and then knock them down. Especially when they project an image of perfection and holiness. Mel is a handsome, successful, family man and a devout Catholic. To be caught up in this scandal goes against that image and has comics, bloggers, community leaders, families and people everywhere buzzing.

Playing against type doesn’t work in the movies or in reality. If Colin Ferrell got drunk and did something crazy the media would hardly bat an eyelash, his image is that of the drunken bad boy anyway. It is what we expect from Colin.

But goodie-goodie Mel Gibson is a different story. Of course he was already under fire from the Jewish community concerning the depiction of Jews in Passion of the Christ and his father had been quoted diminishing the Holocaust. So this offense was the third strike for Mel. And it set off an atomic bomb.

Mel_movie But I wouldn’t count him out. He began the brand healing process early which is the only thing to do after a crisis of this magnitude. What will really save his company at the end of the day is making a good movie. Mel should pray Apocalypto can deliver at the box office this winter and he can persuade the public to forgive him for his sins.