Michael Phelps, the legendary Olympian, an American hero, was photographed smoking a prohibited substance – the photo has flown around the world since it’s publication in the News of the World on February 1st. Sponsorship deals with Subway and Kellogg’s have subsequently hit the rails according to reports.
Revelations of this kind do not always lead to a downward career spiral. Kate Moss provides the perfect example of someone who has been the subject of drug-allegations, only to find herself inundated with more job offers than she knows what to do with. The most successful of these is with Topshop for whom she designs a clothing range. Indeed, she is now the UK’s most copied fashion icon according to some.
PRing a sporting celebrity connected with trouble can sometimes be a tough job, and in these instances, it can be even tougher. But, ultimately the clients connected with the celebrity stand to win. The increased exposure of the celebrity in the media who are eager to chart their expected downfall and report the next mis-step, means huge coverage for a brand’s cover star.
The prime example of this is Pete Doherty, who is better known for being Kate Moss’ former boyfriend than his work with the Libertines or Babyshambles. Yet his concerts sell out in minutes as people go in the hope of seeing something controversial happening, irrespective of whether they are fans of his music or not.
What Michael Phelps can do now is to avoid further brushes with drugs, and to find himself a nice rehabilitation programme to attend in the three months that he’s going to miss from swimming. When he returns to the pool, Phelps needs to use his profile to teach kids about the dangers of drugs and to make as much noise about the misdemeanour and his willingness to combat it and help others as possible. He’ll find sponsors come back in their droves and all will be forgiven.