Blog: Leonie BarrieMoss is no role model

Leonie Barrie | 21 September 2005

The fact that fashion chain H&M has dropped British model Kate Moss from an upcoming advertising campaign after a series of newspaper articles exposed her as a cocaine user shouldn’t really come as any surprise. What she did was illegal, and however the pictures were obtained, the model is a public figure and it must be her responsibility to make sure that her private life is exemplary. Yes she has an edgy image that undoubtedly appeals to many advertisers, but there is a fine line between projecting that image and living it to the full.

Whatever the reason for H&M’s decision – be it a wish to dissociate themselves from drugs on moral grounds or, as the cynics would have it, protect their profits and boost their public image – it certainly sends a positive message to customers, many of whom are still in their teens and view Kate Moss as a role model. Sportsmen and women are banned for taking drugs…so why should this be any different? And when Kobe Bryant was charged with sexual assault two years ago, he was dropped from endorsement deals with McDonalds and Nutella.

What I find more alarming is that companies such as Rimmel, Dior and Chanel are standing by the supermodel and continuing to use her to front their brands. As we pointed out in a recent feature on the ‘All-new rules for celebrity marketing,’ the biggest issue is to align with someone whose image and values resonate with those of your brand; and that troublesome cases arise as a result of scandal. It also seems that there are no contingency plans to tackle when a celebrity falls out of favour with the public. Perhaps companies will have to take greater care in future to ensure that they have the right person.


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