20 Nov 2009

Does Gillette drop Thierry Henry’s contract over his play?

Paying a celebrity or sports figure to represent your company in promotional campaigns is an enormous gamble. You must take into account the integrity, lifestyle and personality of that spokesperson. If they are involved in negative behavior, they can have a detrimental effect on your sales, company and brand.

Normally, when a spokesperson has a lapse in better judgment, it typically is a matter of bad taste, inappropriate statements or in some extreme cases murder (OJ Simpson). Not too long ago, Michael Phelps got into some hot water over his indulgence into cannabis. (see my previous blog post here) Some of these events are no brainers: spokesperson makes mistake-> company cancels contract and distances themselves from said spokesperson.

I wonder though if Gillette will cancel their contract with French soccer player Thierry Henry over his controversial handball in yesterday’s World Cup qualifying match with Ireland. There is no doubt Henry handled the ball that lead to the goal to send France into the Finals. The video replay clearly shows that the handball wasn’t an accident but a deliberate attempt on Henry’s part. To me, that shows a lack of integrity on Henry’s part. Is he ok with the fact that he cheated to advance his team? Does Gillette want a cheater to represent their company? There are already calls for them to cancel their contract with Henry and several Facebook groups have been created to solicit supporters. (full disclosure: I am one of those supporters that want Gillette to drop Henry. I also want to say that I am an Ireland soccer supporter as well. But that has nothing to do with my view! I promise!)

It will be interesting to see what Gillette does. I cannot think of another incident where a spokesperson has been dropped by their sponsorship for this kind of play. Can anyone? What do you think?


Adam is a graduate of Colorado State University (bachelor’s degree in marketing), and he has experience on both the client and agency side of the marketing world. These experiences led him to come up with a unique, more efficient business model, which he’s incorporated into Encite Marketing. Adam sets the strategic direction for all Encite projects, developing integrated marketing campaigns that bring results. He takes a consultative approach with clients, educating them about how the process works, and keeping them in the loop about end goals, steps, and tasks.