Lance Armstrong recently sat down with Oprah Winfrey to make an apology. Oprah has become the host of choice for celebrities seeking to bare their soul and try to gain redemption for their lost reputation. This is part of a bid by Armstrong to resume his athletic career and rehabilitate the reputation that helped build the Livestrong charity and the rest of his financial empire. Armstrong is also offering to testify in doping investigations.
So the big question is: do such celebrity mea culpa’s work? I think that it depends on the severity of the case and how strongly the public comes down on the offender. In Armstrong’s case, he has many detractors but he also has a stable of supporters who believe that the millions he raised for charity give him some absolution. Others believe the money raised is tainted. Armstrong could also face numerous lawsuits due to contract provision with sponsors where the sponsor believes their association with the cyclist has brought irreparable harm.
So going to Oprah, considered by many as “America’s Mother” may be a start but ultimately, time will tell, and Armstrong’s future actions will need to be very convincing indeed or the public will not be swayed the tell all interview.
This is not the first time a major brand like the US Post Office has suffered harm due to the actions of a celebrity sports figure, but it may be the catalyst that created a higher regard for due diligence on marketers as they contemplate putting their stamp of approval on a celebrity as part of their strategy.