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Kraft’s Less-Than-Golden PR Move

January 11, 2011 1 comment

Ted Williams for Kraft

I’m all for redemption and second chances, but I can’t for the life of me figure out Kraft’s move to give the “Golden-Voiced Homeless Guy” Ted Williams a gig doing a voiceover for a commercial.  It’s problematic for several reasons:

  1. Celebrities, as a rule, are a risky gambit when it comes to promoting one’s brand.  They’re human and one slip-up (easily documented nowadays with a smartphone or traffic cam) can bring down all sorts of image (and legal) problems.  Not only that, but slip-ups don’t have to result in a “Dateline” segment – they can be as simple as using a competitor’s brand in public.
  2. Celebs are already problematic, and that’s assuming the celeb doesn’t have a drug problem already.  Unfortunately Ted Williams already has a long history of addiction/substance abuse which makes him an even riskier bet.  If anything bad happens (like a relapse) – Kraft is risking being named every single time Williams is as a key bullet point of his biography.
  3. Many people (particularly those in the media) are acutely aware of the relative unfairness of giving a guy like Ted Williams a golden ticket given the decisions he’s made in his past.  As many (including Howard Stern) have pointed out – there are hundreds of out-of-work radio guys out there that have toed the line the past few decades and didn’t turn to drugs or become deadbeat dads.  Kraft is risking inserting itself into that debate and possibly becoming the target of a boycott.

That said, I hope everything works out for Ted and Kraft.  We seem to need more inspirational stories of late.

[Update: Shortly after I published this post, this came across the news wires: Ted Williams detained, released by LAPD after ‘minor disturbance’]