The gauntlet has been thrown down
British comedian and out-and-proud, self-proclaimed social media troll Joe Lycett has stood up and criticized David Beckham’s involvement with the upcoming FIFA Qatar World Cup. A sponsorship which will see the soccer star receive 10 million pounds. Perhaps just a PR stunt to disrupt a conversation around money and morals this global online conversation has the potential to have a massive impact on the online reputation management strategy for each of the parties.
World Cup 2022 host, Qatar has allegedly been the perpetrator of incredible human rights violations, especially against the LGBTQ+ community, who under threat of abuse imprisonment and event death. In 2010, when Qatar was chosen to host the event, FIFA President Sepp Blatter joked when asked what LGBTQ+ people should do during the 2022 World Cup that, “gay footballers should refrain from any sexual activity”.
Incidentally, that year Beckham had stood heartbroken as his England bid had failed to make the cut. Also, Beckham is known for his status as an ally of the queer community, a fact that Joe mentions during his criticism of the former Manchester United player.
In his video statement recorded for the Independent, Lycett acknowledges that Beckham – probably on of the most famous footballers in the world – has been an LGBT icon; standing up for the community, being vocal with his support and – as Joe say – “marrying a Spice Girl which is gayest thing you could do.”
Actions Have a Reaction
Is all that over now because of one sponsorship deal? National newspapers across the UK are quoting Joe Lycett who has said the footballer should “hang his head in shame” and he is ready to put his money where his mouth is. In fact, if Bex drops the deal, Joe has promised to give 10,000 pounds of his own money to an LGBTQ+ charity (a thousand for every million Beckham will receive). If he doesn’t, he will shred the money on a live stream for the world to see.
This act in itself has seen a huge backlash which should be taken into account when thinking about his online reputation management strategy. With an energy crisis across Britain and nurses being forced to visit food banks, Joe Lycett is promising to destroy an amount of money that would be life changing for your average person on the street.
These decisions made by these celebrities can have huge impact on the way the world sees them. Situation like this can damage a celebrity’s reputation forever and impede future earnings. A lesser known, Lycett has taken a bold stand against celebrity royalty, but has he gone to far?
Impact of ORM
From an online reputation management strategy standpoint, you just have to search their names to understand the difference. Beckham, with 20 years of PR behind him and a much larger global fanbase is in a much more secure position. His first page is full of controlled assets from websites to social media pages and fan sites. In two months, he can make a simple statement and do something pretty innocuous, and the news will most certainly cover it – this news will be tomorrow waste. So how much will it really hurt a brand that has been built over time.
For comparative newbie Lycett however this story is front and centre of his entire Google search. It will be more difficult to push down negative reactions from his statement – and yet he is now on a much more global stage. And a lot of people will like what he has to say. As for his brand – he is indeed a self-proclaimed troll. This is what he does. His entire fanbase is built up of those who enjoy his subversive point of view and thrive on his “spilling the tea”, tell-you-how-it-is persona.
Will he really destroy the money? How will that affect his future fanbase and his online reputation management strategy? Meanwhile, will David Beckham, yet to respond, bow to public pressure and leave behind 10 million?
We’ll all just have to wait and see.