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November 18, 2010

Is your endorser prone to bad behavior? Get disgrace insurance

By David Kiefaber on Thu Nov 18 2010

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As companies rely more and more on celebrity endorsers, the risk of their spokespeople going spectacularly off the rails becomes more prominent. And while celebrity train wrecks make great headlines, they're terrible for PR. But since it's apparently impossible to pull back on the constant media scrutiny that celebrities live under, vulnerable brands are literally insuring themselves against bad publicity with "disgrace insurance." Now, disgrace claims have existed for a long time, but they have a much higher corporate profile now, thanks to guys like Tiger Woods and their very public misbehavior. For brand marketers, disgrace insurance policies cover the costs of having to restart an ad campaign, money that would otherwise be lost when the company has to jettison its star player. And according to Lloyd's, premiums fluctuate based on how likely the celebrity is to cause trouble. Not every company sees the need for disgrace insurance (some brands, like Gillette, kept Tiger Woods, if you recall), but there are plenty that do, and they're screwing up a teachable moment here. Expecting rich, attractive people who live in a world of yes to never misbehave is unrealistic, and the pressure this places on people who already have privacy issues is absurd. This could, and should, lead into a discussion about how unhinged Western celebrity culture has become, and that maybe we shouldn't make famous people the focal point of everything we consume.

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