Public Outbursts Make for An Interesting Week in WOM
I never pay too much attention to tennis, and I knew if anything noteworthy happened at the Video Music Awards, I’d hear about it for weeks following, so I missed both Serena William’s and Kanye West’s outbursts on National television. Thanks to my Twitter-addiction though, I knew about these celeb slip-ups within minutes of them happening.
At the US Open Tennis Semi-Finals, Serena Williams went a little overboard when confronting a line judge. Okay, she went WAY overboard, apparently saying “I swear to God I’m [expletive] going to take this [expletive] ball and shove it down your [expletive] throat, you hear that? I swear to God,” to the line judge.
Slapped with a $10,000 fine and tarnished reputation, the tennis star apologized today on her Web site. Unfortunately for Serena, an apology won’t undo the 869,160 views on YouTube and the influx of Twitter conversation about the attack.
Yesterday, one day after Serena’s tantrum, Kanye West made an even bigger scene at MTV’s Video Music Awards Show. Ripping the microphone from the hands of Taylor Swift, who just won an award for Best Female Video, Kanye told the crowd “I’m sorry, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.” While there’s speculation that Kanye and MTV did this a publicity stunt, Beyoncé’s shocked reaction and Swift’s hurt face show that maybe, just maybe this is real, unscripted television.
I haven’t counted the publicity-stunt idea out. After all, year-after-year the VMAs have given us something that makes for good conversation and goes viral. Kanye’s outburst got people talking since it happened, and actually generated nearly 300,000 Kanye tweets in the hour following. If negative attention is what he wanted, Kanye sure is getting it. On Twitter I’ve seen a plethora of tweets having expressing hatred toward Kanye and/or showing support of Taylor Swift.
There must be something in the air this month that makes for some high-profile blow-ups. Or maybe Rep. Joe Wilson payed Kanye and Serena to take the spotlight away from his “You Lie” outburst in the middle of President Obama’s address to Congress last week.
Not ALL of America’s celebrities, politicians and athletes are acting out-of-line this month and generating unpleasant word-of-mouth for themselves. Beyoncé did the right thing and gave Swift the attention she deserved while giving her time on stage to make an acceptance speech.
And after his through-the-legs hit that took him to the US Open finals, Roger Federer doesn’t need to make an outburst to generate some word-of-mouth for himself.
The lesson we can learn from Serena, Kanye, Rep. Wilson, Beyoncé and Federer is: Whether you’re doing something good or doing something bad, social media doesn’t leave much room for hiding. The same goes for business, whether it’s a good deed, great tennis move or drunken outburst, it only takes one move to make you the next trending topic.
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