Lessons learned from Renee Zellweger and Jian Ghomeshi

By Amber Hudson and Luke Sklar

We’re currently baring witness to two celebrities who’ve had their brands shaken to the core.

Let us start with dear Renee Zellweger. Fans love her thanks to her cute and quirky roles in Bridget Jones and Jerry Maguire. Fast forward a few years and her dramatic change in appearance has people asking why? And not getting a satisfying answer from Renee. (Interestingly, her next two movies are titled ‘The Whole Truth’ and ‘Same Kind of Different as Me’. Huh.)

What Renee has failed to understand is the DNA of her connection: doe-eyed, average, lovable. We see the beauty in her imperfection and thus a bit of ourselves in her. Like Jennifer Gray whose post Dirty Dancing nose job killed her career, we love stars who are lovably imperfect. Embrace your distinctive features (Cindy Crawford’s mole) ladies and gents, don’t homogenize.

Next up, Jian Ghomeshi. Wholesome, smart, positive, he of Moxy Fruvous, Jian Ghomeshi was the CBC’s money maker, their Golden Goose. They lost Hockey Night in Canada but still had Jian’s show Q. Given this, as researchers we hypothesize the story behind the dismissal had to be BIG. Bigger than what Jian shared in his Facebook post. But unlike Renee, Jian is owning his side of the story by hiring Navigator, a PR firm known for crisis management, and throwing down a $55 million defamation lawsuit to show he’s pissed. We think his brand is bigger than the CBC. And as long as nothing else comes out, he can stick handle his way to a new opportunity.

Both of these celebs kicked their special assets in the teeth. The lesson for marketers is know what sets you apart from the huddled masses: visually, emotionally, rationally, deeply. If any of this is threatened, if your brand stands for Ying and gets slammed into Yang, you have no choice but to go into major recovery mode.