It is often said that ‘all PR is good’, but could bad PR offer anything good to a celebrity brand? In America, may be; but in Ghana, we think not quite yet. 2014 saw a number of highly regarded celebrity brands virtually or nearly crushing under the effects of bad PR. In the second of our three-part review of the year 2014 from the lens of PR and Communication, we bring you a summary of the Biggest Celebrity PR Nightmares of 2014. From Elikem The Tailor’s purported ‘Twitter Confession’ to Itz Tiffany’s leaked sex tape, to Abodam’s alleged ganjer smoking arrest, to the grandmaster of all Celebrity PR Nightmares – KKD the Finest’s alleged rape arrest, 2014 was truly an unforgettable year for Ghana’s showbiz industry:
1. Elikem’s ‘Twitter Confession’: When ex-footballer Nii Odartey Lamptey announced his divorce with his wife of over 20 years after finding that he is not the biological father of their children, social media went agog with some boldly suggesting that Ghana’s Big Brother Africa 2013 representative, Elikem Kumordzi allegedly had something to do with Mrs. Gloria Lamptey. This allegation had the capacity to taint what was arguably an emerging showbiz brand. Elikem’s denial and subesequent silence was commendable. It helped reduce the potency of the rumour, until a purported ‘twitter confession’ by Elikem to the effect that he had a four year relationship with Mrs. Gloria Lamptey.
Impact and PR Lesson: Our initial thoughts were that the purported confession could not be true. We thought at the time that Elikem’s account may have been hacked. Taking the so-called confession on its face-value, it was going to be a celebrity brand buster. The Elikem brand could not have recovered from it. However, true to our belief, Elikem swiftly reacted and stated that his account was used by his estranged celebrity BBA girlfriend Pokello Nare to post the said confession. In our view, Elikem’s response to the allegations so far has been commendable, suggestive of the fact that he had access to some very good team advisors. Although the speculation and suspicion still persists, Elikem’s brand is yet to be negatively affected. It is advisable for him to continue to stay away from any further comments on the matter sincere there is no incontrovertible evidence to link him to the situation.
2. Pampered Kids’ Sex Tape: The year will also be remembered for the release of a number of sexually explicit videos online. One of them which threatened the reputation of two of Ghana’s high profile personalities was those of teenagers purported to be children of a Minister of State and a University Vice-Chancellor. The video of the teenagers engaged in the sexual act was shot in an SUV purported to belong to the minister.
Impact: Elsewhere, this kind of scandal if admitted, could have resulted in the destruction of the career of the parents of both children. They would have had to resign from their roles and offer a public apology for letting down their followers and accepting full responsibility for the sins of their children. However, we believe the decision of both parents to remain silent on the scandal was a smart one. Sometimes, silence is the best form of response to an incidence that threatens one’s reputation or career.
3. Itz Tifanny Sex Tape: The female musician had the unpleasant experience of waking up to calls from friends to inform her that her sex video has been leaked online by her ex-husband. Her admission of the tape and an explanation of the circumstances surrounding it led to sympathies for her from the public. It appears she had access to good PR advice from her managers and this helped in settling the storm. The lesson for all celebrities is to ensure that your man does not trick you into recording your sexual experience. You may not be as lucky as Itz Tiffany. So just say no, to save your reputation and career.
4. Abodam Ganjer Arrest: The alleged attempt to get a small dose of highness from a stick of marijuana has turned the King of the Street into the King of Prison Cells. Kwaw Kese, also known as Abodam, spent at least two weeks in prison cells after he was arrested by the police in Kumasi for allegedly smoking Indian hemp. Since drug offences are non-bailable in Ghana, he was only saved by his ill-health on Tuesday December 30 when he was granted bail on health grounds. It is not in doubt that this incident has caused considerable reputational damage to the Abodam brand. However because of the uniqueness of Kwaw Kese’s brand, we are of the opinion that Abodam would be able to emerge from this and rebuild his musical brand with little or no difficulty.
5. The Finest Rape Arrest: Perhaps the grandmaster of all Celebrity PR Nightmares of 2014 was the arrest of Ghana’s fashion icon, showbiz supremo, and the finest king of the microphone, Kwasi Kyei Darkwah, alias KKD for alleged rape. ‘KKD the Finest’ got the rudest shock of his life on Saturday December 27, 2014 when he was arrested on a charge of rape of a 19 year old woman. The offence of rape is a serious one which is non-bailable, and attracts a strict penalty if convicted. This is perhaps the single most important PR disaster which is likely to cause the biggest reputational damage to the finest brand in Ghana’s showbiz industry.
Impact: Until the incident, KKD was respected in the industry as a role model to many broadcasters and showbiz personalities. He is a superbrand in his own right and a master of the microphone. However, it is accepted by all that a tag of rape is a dangerous image buster, and appears to have already done so to KKD. His own friend and music producer Mike Okraku Mantey could not help but admit on radio that this incident has done a grave damage to KKD’s reputation. The veracity or otherwise of the allegation is not yet known, but like someone said, “like a President who always bears the tag of a President even if he served for only one term, a rapist bears that tag for life as well.”
The PR Finest Lesson: Due to the potential devastating effect of the charge of rape on a celebrity’s reputation, KKD and his lawyers have been busily trying to establish his purported innocence. There have been so many news reports quoting both KKD and his lawyers as saying it was a consensual sex, with some even describing the events before, during and after, including the so-called sex positions. There was even a release of a barely clear CCTV footage claiming KKD and the victim were engaged in a passionate kiss before their alleged consensual sex in the hotel toilet. Professionally, we believe a one-time response of admission to a consensual sexual encounter with the 19 year old should have been adequate. There should not have been any need to continue talking. We believe his attempts to explain the circumstances surrounding the sexual encounter are inadvertently doing more damage to his reputation. It is leading to more unverified revelations by a number of other women claiming similar encounters with KKD in their teenage years. There is no doubt that the moral society had already found him guilty of the offence for sleeping with a woman some 30 years younger than him. So it would have been a smart strategy to remain quiet after the initial claim of consensual sex.
We are of the considered view that whether confirmed or not, the mere charge of rape alone may have done an irreparable damage to the ‘Finest Brand’ in showbiz. It will take a great deal of effort and money to regain some of what it lost.
Nevertheless, 2014 was not only about PR Nightmares. The year also recorded some rare PR and communication brilliance. Watch out for the final part of this series next Monday as we bring you what we believe were the Biggest PR Spectaculars of 2014.
By: James Kofi Afedo
PR Crisis Management & Communication Specialist