Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR
Sometimes, the results of a public relations miscue don’t manifest for months or even years after a mistake is made. Sometimes, the consequences are immediate. Just ask popular musician Bob Ritchie, more commonly known by his stage name, Kid Rock.
Ritchie is a Detroit native, and an institution in the revived Motown music scene. A genre-crossing bridge-builder, Ritchie is also known for refusing to censor his lyrics or his opinions. Recently, though, Kid Rock’s penchant for telling it like he sees it hit him in the wallet. His Made in Detroit restaurant will be closing imminently, when the current licensing agreement expires.
According to various media reports, Chris Granger, who helms the sports and entertainment section of Ilitch Holdings said Kid Rock “voluntarily” elected to forgo a renewal of the deal of the restaurant, which is housed inside Little Caesars Arena, where both the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and NBA’s Detroit Pistons call home.
The announcement was made shortly after Kid Rock unleashed what the media is calling a “vulgarity-laced rant” directed at former talk show host and current media mogul, Oprah Winfrey. The press reportedly reached out to Rock for a statement, but none was released. Meanwhile, Ilitch has released a statement, saying “our venues are open, inclusive, and respectful to all…”
Clearly, this message was meant not only as a passive rebuke to Ritchie, but also a message to people who might be Winfrey fans, that they are welcome at the arena and restaurant. Some might ask why Ilitch would bother announcing the move at all. Why draw attention to a potentially negative PR situation? That can be a difficult question with a few factors to consider.
Sometimes, the news cycle invites a response, and sometimes it demands one. In this case, once the news broke, via TMZ, about Kid Rock’s comments, “activist” groups came out strong, calling for protests and potential boycotts. Meanwhile, some political leaders described Rock’s comments as “wrong and racist.”
Kid Rock was not about to let that lie. He fired back, saying: “I may be guilty of being a loud mouth jerk… but to label me a racist is a joke, and actually does a disservice to the black community…”
These comments lit a fire in the digital marketing world. on social media. Suddenly, the only player not commenting was the entertainment group. Their eventual response, then, served to separate their brand effectively from the sideshow aspect of the growing back-and-forth between Kid Rock and his critics. Effectively, Ilitch said, “This has nothing to do with us. We want everyone’s business, thanks.”
An appropriate action, given how these things can either fizzle or spin quickly out of control, depending on which or how many big names or brands toss their opinion into the mix.
About the Author: Ronn Torossian is Founder of 5WPR.
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