Mis-Communicator of the Week: Joe Hart

It is the kind of scenario those working in consumer PR will look forward to. A photogenic hero to thousands as your spokesman, a globally important sporting event and a willing national newspaper, should result in a great profile of said star...and ticks by all the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in your monthly review. 

Somewhere along the line something went wrong. England and Manchester City goalkeeper, Joe Hart, was on the cover of last Saturday’s Times magazine. One major KPI surely secured. The journalist Polly Vernon diligently name checked the brand Hart was ‘promoting’: Boss Bottled Unlimited. Another KPI in the net. Yet already by this point, not half way through the profile, the reader is getting slightly uneasy. It is a bit like an episode of The Office. Then it gets worse. What was it that went wrong and, more importantly for the purpose of this blog, who was at fault? 

I know from my own experience that profile writers are sometimes hard work and need to be carefully managed without that process becoming part of the profile. It doesn’t appear that the journalist was treated badly to make her rebel. She even refers to the “PR rep” a number of times in a positive way (“delightful”) but, by also calling them “long suffering”, begins to suggest the fault lies elsewhere. 

As for the journalist she also begins the interview with some simple catching practice asking Hart about the fragrance he was there to promote.

This simple warm up is not handled well: “Tell me about your fragrance, Joe. ‘My fragrance…’ he says. ‘Well…” What does it smell of? ‘It’s kind of…Fresh, limey, summery…’ Have you practised that? ‘I have! I have practised this! I prefer a piece of paper in front of me…’ Does it evoke feelings? ‘Er…’ Does it evoke football? ‘Why not!’” Hart then goes on to discuss the smell of football as, “not great” and “mud”. Hardly the glowing endorsement for a fragrance described as "invigorating with freshness, enduring energy and aromatic masculinity. Your motivating energy boost for personal success beyond limits.”

Unfortunately the interview then goes rapidly downhill with Hart becoming monosyllabic in his answers bordering on plain rude. The mobile home where the interview is conducted is described as a “space in which we’re seated feels suddenly, intensely claustrophobic.” After attempting to eek some life and insight out of Hart the journalist “crawl[s] out of the interview after 37 minutes despite being allocated a full hour in Hart’s company”. 

To me it is clear the fault for this excruciating profile of Joe Hart lies with Hart himself. One could argue this was the PR teams fault for not targeting the right publication or working with a journalist who would be a better fit for the interview. Ultimately though Hart was there acting as a brand ambassador for Hugo Boss and its Boss Bottled Unlimited fragrance.

Each question thrown at him was an opportunity to deliver an inspiring message which reflected the brand he was representing. When asked about money he could have talked about what motivates him. When asked what gets him down he could have talked about what gives him an energy boost and what he considers to be a personal success. Instead the reader was left thinking 'why would I want to wear a fragrance associated with that characterless man’. For that Joe Hart is my Mis-Communicator of the Week.

Communicator of the Week is written by Ed Staite.