Jian Ghomeshi’s every move carefully crafted,...
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Feb 06, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Jian Ghomeshi’s every move carefully crafted, branding experts say

From his clothes to having his mother walk him out, Ghomeshi is creating an image of a meek, quiet person, experts say


Legally, the trial of Jian Ghomeshi will be decided by only one person – the presiding judge.

But there’s a second trial happening, experts say, over Ghomeshi’s reputation in the minds of millions of people watching the trial unfold.

It all revolves around Ghomeshi’s celebrity stature in Canada, according to Phil Pallen, a celebrity brand strategist originally from Canada but now based in Los Angeles.

Ghomeshi’s fame and previous reputation mean he has much more to regain than most people under similar circumstances, Pallen said.

“He was the like the golden child of the CBC… it took less than a week to literally go from superstar to the most hated man in Canada,” Pallen said.

Pallen and other experts think part of Ghomeshi’s and his counsel’s strategy is regaining that reputation and respect. People’s perception is just as important as any eventual verdict, Pallen said.

There’s a lot of danger for Ghomeshi too, Pallen added. One wrong word or facial expression, if caught by cameras, could cement any bad impression the public have right now, he said.

“People are watching every millimetre, every millisecond of his movement,” he said.

It’s part of why Pallen thinks Ghomeshi has been subdued and quiet in court, and letting his lawyers take the lead.

“There’s absolutely nothing he can say or do that would make this situation better, other than to retreat [and] completely disappear,” he said.

That subdued strategy is reflected in more than Ghomeshi’s silence, according to Diana Bishop, a personal branding expert and creator of The Success Story Program.

Bishop has crafted similar strategies “on a pretty minor scale,” and said celebrities will spend a lot of money developing a strategy to recur the good favour they once had with the public. Bishop used Justin Bieber as an example.

“He has not been accused of anything as serious, but even so, his rehabilitation … probably cost millions of dollars,” she said.

In Ghomeshi’s case, everything from attitude to his clothing – white shirt, dark clothes, to blend into the background – is tailored to make him seem meek and remorseful, Bishop said.

“He’s a very good-looking man with a presence, and they’re playing this down as much as they can to make him look as much like an ordinary person as possible,” she said.

Also a conscious decision was the choice to be surrounded by women during the trial, from his lawyer Marie Henein to his mother who walks him out at the end of every day.

“It’s absolutely a deliberate attempt to make him look like… obviously women are important to him,” she said.

Jane Shapiro, a senior vice president and crisis practice leader at Hill+Knowlton, said she believes Ghomeshi choosing Henein has less to do with her gender than her skills as a lawyer.

“He’s chosen an excellent defence attorney who happens to be a woman,” she said, adding the choice of a second female lawyer might help his image, but it’s more of a “happy coincidence.”

No matter what the verdict is, Bishop said she envisions how things will unfold after. First, she said, Ghomeshi will apologize for something even if it’s not directly related to the charges.

“The shape of that apology would be very well constructed and would have to say how sorry he was that this all happened,” she said.

Ghomeshi would also have to announce that he’s seeking some kind of therapy, Bishop said, and that he’s dedicating himself to some cause that helps others.

Those steps are still far away, on the other side of a trial and verdict by the judge, but Shapiro said the strategy has to start now if Ghomeshi wants a shot at his old reputation back.

“It’s a long road back, but what he’s hoping to do now is lay the groundwork,” she said.

Toronto Star

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