Celebrity Power

Snap is smarting today – smarting meaning it has lost almost $1,000,000 in market cap – because it ran an awkward ad which asked one “Would You Rather”:

 A. Slap Rihanna; or,

 B. Punch Chris Brown?

The violent choices are a pathetic attempt at humor, if one can find humor in a horrific, domestic violent incident from 2009 in which Chris Brown assaulted Rihanna. Not funny, sayeth the Big Red Car even if they were named Jones and Smith. Not funny.

Brown was charged with felony assault. “I’m going to beat the shit out of you when we get home! You wait and see!” he said during the melee.

You can read a description of the 2009 incident here: Chris Brown Punches and Chokes Rhinna

Celebrity power, Big Red Car? What really happened?

Snap removed the ad and issued an apology:

“This advertisement is disgusting and never should have appeared on our service. We are so sorry we made the terrible mistake of allowing it through our review process. We are investigating how that happened so that we can make sure it never happens again.”

The apology did not sit well with Rihanna who sent a message to her followers using Insta:

“Now SNAPCHAT I know you already know you ain’t my fav app out there! But I’m just trying to figure out what the point was with this mess! I’d love to call it ignorance, but I know you ain’t that dumb! You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV victims and made a joke of it!!! This isn’t about my personal feelings, cause I don’t have much of them…but all the women, children and men that have been victims of DV in the past and especially the ones who haven’t made it out yet…you let us down!”

She delivered the death blow thusly:

“Shame on you. Throw the whole app-oligy away.”

So what happened next, Big Red Car?

The stock went down almost 4% draining $600,000,000 from the market value of the company.

Hello, America!

Teaching point, Big Red Car?

The teaching points are this:

 1. If a company is going to ride the wave of celebrity endorsement power – either directly or by use – then, you better make damn sure you don’t offend the folks whose reflected power is driving your stock.

 2. If you are going to be a public company, you must check, double-check, and re-check everything. It was a dumb move to run that ad. How could someone not have said, “Hey, will this offend one of our big users?”

 3. Celebrities have power to drive things upward and to crash them.

This is not the first lesson in celebrity power that has been administered to Snap. Earlier this year, it redesigned its look to lukewarm responses.

Kylie Jenner tweeted, “sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad.”

That trimmed more than $1,300,000,000 from Snap’s market cap.

She later tried to make nice by tweeting, “Still love you tho snap.”

By then, it was too late as many of Jenner’s 25,000,000 followers had already begun to pile up negative reviews sufficient for Wall Street analysts to downgrade the stock.

So, the  bottom line is this – if you by the sword of celebrity power, you may die by the sword of celebrity power.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Be good to yourself. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time and tell them you’ve been thinking of them.




2 thoughts on “Celebrity Power

  1. Don’t you think the reaction was obviously traders ‘selling on news’? Won’t have any impact long term (most likely) and you can’t police everything otherwise there will be gray area content that is flagged. This is not like the ad dept at the NYT things move much quicker. (No copy to ‘approve’ like that).

    I don’t things like this are entirely bad for SNAP (who btw I did consulting for..). It’s a ‘dead bodies on ebay’ moment that is it garners a great deal of mainline publicity. After the bad wears off (the WD40 ‘carrier’) the good lubricant (or whatever is in wd40) remains as in more PR for snap.

  2. Well, there’s the Thumper Rule:

    If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.

    People with good socialization were at the Honors level in the Thumper Rule in kindergarten and did much more year by year since.

    The socialization includes always keeping in mind what the other person or other people might think and also thinking before speaking. Or there is the carpenter’s rule “measure twice, saw once” and could borrow this for “Think twice and speak just once or not at all.”. Or, “Never leave brain idling with mouth in gear.”.

    Here, gender makes a difference: Already in the crib, the girls are paying attention to people and the boys, to things. So, while a girl is trying to find how to smile at and make eye contact with her dad to create in him feelings of affection and love and elicit support and protection, a boy is trying to hack the latch on the crib and install Wi-Fi and Linux in the toy firetruck on the floor. So, by kindergarten, the girls are way ahead of the boys in socialization, and the boys are way ahead of the girls in working with things. E.g., when I was 14 and in the home of my girlfriend, 12, the prettiest human female I ever saw in person or otherwise, no exaggeration, and her mother, the mother was struggling because her tank type Hoover vacuum cleaner wouldn’t run. Well, long before Dad had taught me how to wire electrical appliances. So, I could have solved the problem with no further diagnosis and my eyes closed, but since it was electrical and I wanted to be sure about safety, I worked carefully. Sure, I used the little key chain screwdriver I had to remove the cover on the switch, used my pocket knife to cut off the broken wires, peeled back the insulation, exposed and twisted some new wire, tied a knot in the cord for strain relief, wrapped the twisted wires around the screw terminals, reassembled, tested, and got respect from the mother and daughter. I was good with things; they were really good with people, had me totally 100% in love with the girl and, in particular had me rush to fix the vacuum cleaner for them! My reward was that they smiled, and they were doing that already in the crib.

    Well, bluntly, if SNAP wants a public relations review unit, then they need to staff it with some women with good socialization, but I’m being nearly redundant. Most bright girls in the first grade would have rejected that SNAP ad, really, both of them.

    So, just what the heck is it about SNAP that they can so consistently make such bone-headed, obvious mistakes down at the pre-school level for girls? Okay: My guess is that SNAP has some pervasive, risk taking, irresponsible, perverse hacker bro culture. Without doing a lookup, their COO is Rafe Testosteroni? Hackers? The Apple Objective C compiler doesn’t care what the programmer thinks of it. And this diagnosis fits: After all, SNAP started as a way for boys to ask girls to send smartphone pictures the girls took without clothes in front of a bathroom mirror.

    So, SNAP needs on their BoD one or more of, say, Kellyann Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Betsy DeVos, etc.

    Actually, more generally, SNAP just needs some of common, middle America, small town, female church social culture, e.g., so astoundingly sensitive about what other people might think that they don’t want a bottle of wine vinegar in the house because of “wine” on the label and have a standard, universal rule “Don’t tell them ANYTHING!”, i.e, stronger than the Thumper Rule.

    Maybe in a sense we are all wrong: SNAP has a target audience, e.g., adolescent boys who still don’t know what a female looks like. Boys, as in Girls 101 for Dummies — Boys, once you learn, here is the bottom line about that: Far and away the most important part of her to look at is above her shoulders, not below; study that remark until you thoroughly understand it. So, to get more of their target audience, SNAP wants, say, more press, publicity, even notoriety. So, the stock price blips down a little for a few days, but with the notoriety soon they get some more of their target audience, boys 10 to 18. So, right, each year they lose part of their target audience as the boys turn 19 or 20 or so. Then, each year, SNAP needs to renew their audience, i.e., get some notoriety among a new crop of users, e.g., the boys who just turned 10!! Maybe!!

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