This has not been a good week for a couple of very prominent names – Lance Armstrong and Disney. I’ve written many times about Disney, and my experience working there, but never about Lance Armstrong. This week they both went over the cliff due to their own actions, and how those actions hit the press.
The biggest news was the 60 Minutes TV interview of one of Lance’s long-term cycle team members. This was a real showstopper with insights coming from a real insider who claimed to be privy to, and a participant with Lance in illegal training habits and foreign sources used to bolster their performance. There have been many accustations in the past, and convictions of others for doing the same thing in both cycling, and other sports where winning was everything. For a 7-time winner of the Tour de France race, the only person to accomplish that incredible feat, Lance was sports royalty and he parlayed that into commercial success and a huge non-profit Livestrong. He is also a commecial success in his home town of Austin, TX where he is a ‘sports god.’
The article “Livestrong’s Challenge: Surviving Lance Armstrong” talks about his chances of beating the rap, and the impact of his fall from grace and the impact on the Livestrong foundation which has raised over $400 million in support of cancer victims. Lance could be facing civil and criminal charges, but the impact could also hurt the foundation. The jury is out there for now.
Disney ran afoul of many where it tried to trademark the name ‘Seal Team Six’ after the Special Ops team that handled the raid in Pakistan. At first this looked like a good idea, and it appeared that Disney was first to apply for the trademark. Never wanting to waste a good licensing target Disney hyped the idea and some of the things that could have carried the brand. Almost instantly a howl came up that this was unseemly…and poof, the idea went away with Disney dropping the application. Concurrently, it was shown that the Navy had also applied for the trademark, and may have actually beaten Disney to the door of the legal offices.
What’s the fall out from these two instances of reputation mismanagement? Disney will recover quickly – no harm no foul. They were lucky this didn’t go further when the real hew and cry went up for their scalps for being way to commercial. Lance may not fare so well. As a sports hero he may find his name being mentioned along with Barry Bonds, and Reggie Bush as a sports cheat, and some medals may have to be given back. In Texas, Lance is a hero and will always be a hero as a hometown boy. However, I don’t think I would go jogging with the Governor, Rick Perry, when he carries his trusty pistol with the laser scope. Lance could find himself in the Gov’s sights if there is any hint it could hurt Rick’s reputation.
I’ll follow-up on both of these cases in a month to see what the longer-term impact of these revelations will be. The lesson for all…in today’s world – it all comes out, eventually.