It’s hard to avoid the ongoing news coverage around allegations of misconduct made against the high profile musician Lizzo.
With the latest update being that legal teams are reviewing at least six new allegations against the singer, this case raises questions around the role of high profile celebrities as an employer and the parameters of employer-employee conduct outside of the workplace. It goes without saying that a level of professionalism should be maintained by an employer when spending time with employees beyond the office, not least to avoid such concerns around misconduct and abuse of power. However, it seems these lines can too easily be blurred in the entertainment industry. Serious reputational and other consequences can then arise.
This raises questions around the lasting impact the allegations could have on the Lizzo brand. Lizzo is an artist whose brand is centred around female empowerment and body positivity. The recent claims made against her by ex-employees of her production company Big Grrrl Big Touring, threaten to derail her entire image. With claims of fat-shaming come suggestions that Lizzo and her team encourage the exact opposite of body positivity. Reputational issues that undermine the foundations of an individual or a business’s brand are particularly damaging.
In a world where we’re running to a 24-hr news cycle, headlines are far-reaching and can have a huge impact on an individual’s personal brand. This is why a high-profile image must be backed up by a level of authenticity or risk losing the trust of the public.
“Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound, and too outrageous to not be addressed. These sensationalized stories are coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behaviour on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional. I am not here to be looked at as a victim, but I also know that I am not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be these last few days.”
When allegations are made against an individual it is important to ensure appropriate responses are given in the right way, at the right time. Interestingly, Lizzo’s team chose to post her response to social media platform Instagram in a carousel of controlled printed images. Whilst carefully avoiding accepting any sort of liability for the claims, the response directly addresses the reputational impact that the accusations are having on her brand, stating she’s been portrayed as a “villain” by people and the media. Here, the statement walks the tightrope between legal and reputational risk.
It’s hard to predict the lasting reputational impact on Lizzo at this point. It goes without saying that her SEO may need some work in the short term, but it will be interesting to see if legal action really does follow the accusations or, conversely, whether it blows over quickly. Either way, truth hurts, but so do rumours.