Mel Gibson’s recent phone ramblings to his girlfriend have provided us an uncensored look into a man who is angry, troubled and frustrated with his life.
But in no way should they be construed as marking the end of the career of a great entertainment talent. The big question is whether the most recent incident will affect his popularity in the marketplace.
From Mad Max to Braveheart to The Passion of the Christ, Gibson knows his craft and delivers big box office numbers both as an actor and a director. This is Mel Gibson’s brand and it shouldn’t be confused with the train wreck of his personal life. In fact, his recent craziness isn’t too surprising given his past craziness and the on-screen persona he has cultivated for years. Come to think of it, bad behavior is probably already factored into the Gibson brand.
Sure there will be some people who will vow never to see another Gibson film again because of his appalling behavior, but the majority will overlook it. Remember Alec Baldwin’s angry phone message to his daughter a few years back? His career has gotten stronger since then. Why? Because people give celebrities they like the benefit of the doubt, and they also know that where romance is involved (Alec’s messy divorce, Mel’s relationship with his girlfriend), there are two sides to every story.
Like Baldwin, Gibson will be fine as long as he remembers his Target Market, the people who like him and are entertained by his creative work. If Gibson were a personal brand that relied on endorsements and sponsorship, like a sports brand, he might be having some serious trouble now. But he’s not.
Look at Roman Polanski. People still finance his movies and pay money to see them, despite his sordid history. Sinatra and Brando both had mountains of personal troubles that they plowed through career-wise, because their Target Markets liked them and ignored the negative in their off-stage/off-screen lives. Gibson has even less to overcome than any of these three. The odds are very good that he will.
And remember ... things are always easier when you keep marketing in mind.
John Tantillo is a marketing and branding expert and president of the Marketing Department of America who markets his own services as The Marketing Doctor. He is a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum and the author of a new book "People Buy Brands, Not Companies."
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