Boris Johnson, celeb culture and bad public relations for Britain
Here at Manchester’s most innovative and ingenious public relations agency we could talk until the cows come home about the benefits and rewards brands can reap from a great celebrity endorsement or affiliation. Nevertheless, we’ve also mentioned on a number of occasions how vital it is to get this right.
On the one hand, then, we’re intrinsically involved in Britain’s celebrity culture. After all, if celebs weren’t put on a pedestal by the public there would be no point in looking to them for support, simply because very few people would listen. Nevertheless, the rise of fan culture and the increasing emphasis being put on the act of being (and becoming) famous does have downsides not even keen marketers, advertisers and PR pros can hope to deny.
Boris Johnson is a case in point. Not so long ago the rumour mill began churning out stories and predictions suggesting it wouldn’t be long before the funny-haired London mayor sets his sights on a parliament, first as a local MP and then, eventually, the PM role. A box pop conducted by Channel 4 News showed that many people think this would be a good idea, and then at the end of last month the man himself confirmed he intended to stand as the Tory candidate for Uxbridge and Ruislip.
What’s surprising about all this is the reasons the electorate appears to be on his side. This is a guy who has done some great things for the capital, not least in terms of environmentalism, but realistically speaking before he begins the campaign to win voters hearts there’s no real way of telling what his policies will be. More so, the rationale for getting on side with Team BJ seems to centre on the notion he’s a bit of a character, a personality and goofball icon.
What we need to ask ourselves, or perhaps more accurately what those in the area he’s going to stand for need to consider, is the nature of the image and message this sends out to people not just up here in Manchester and the rest of the UK, but across the world. Does it suggest logic and seriousness remain benchmarks for selecting political representatives of the people, or is it indicative of how individuals who are brands in themselves are increasingly prioritised when we’re given the opportunity to choose leaders- either culturally or within the context of governance? In short, there’s a good chance Boris succeeding will be bad PR for Britain simply because, in our humble opinion, he’s rather laughable- and not just because of the blonde mop.