I’ve read this week’s papers behind my hands. For a PR, watching the steady implosion of Brand Clarkson is a painful experience. Can it get any worse for Britain’s king of controversy?
Last week’s blog focussed on the ‘fracas’ (and perhaps allowed me to indulge my Hammond crush a little) and it would seem that the saga continues.
According to news sources he was quoted at a charity event last week as saying the BBC were “f***ing bastards” and that “the BBC have f***ed themselves…it was a great show and they f***ed it up.” All of which might lead the average viewer on the street to wonder whether Clarkson wasn’t suffering just a little from something of a god complex. Or whether he has a PR adviser on hand? In the Sunday Times Clarkson said that the comments he made about the BBC were ‘meant in jest.’ He said “by being brief, controversial and a bit sweary, I woke the room up and the auction prize I was offering… raised £100,000.” Oh, well that’s alright then.
However, it hasn’t stopped there – the media machine has been in full swing over the last week, perhaps in response to the drop in positive opinion not just towards Clarkson but also Top Gear as a result of his actions. There has been the coverage of his “difficult divorce” from his wife Frances of 21 years (he allegedly cheated on her) and the fact that his err “back hurts.”
Hmmmm. Does anyone else get the feeling that all that Clarkson bluster is beginning to wear a bit thin, even for him? It is certainly difficult to ignore the fact that all this is starting to feel distinctly like a campaign to prevent the temporary measure of a suspension becoming the guillotine of a sacking. Perhaps the move that was the most obvious in terms of Clarkson suddenly realizing that he was on thin ice (and not a god, no matter what the Stig says), was his threat to sue the BBC. Sources close to the presenter have said that Clarkson believes there is a BBC smear campaign currently taking place against him and his response is allegedly threatening to sue the BBC for wrongful dismissal if he is sacked. It’s a fairly desperate move – threaten court action very publicly to try and prevent the fall of that blade. And it’s certainly what we would come to expect from a man who many sources have described as a ‘bully.’ However, the question is will he succeed? Or, more importantly, would a cash pay out after legal action (if he won) make up for public dredging up of the many, many faux pas that Clarkson has committed in the past. There was his alleged use of the N word, his Nazi jokes, his slurs against Asian people, punching Piers Morgan – to name but a few (although perhaps few would blame him for that last one). Even if Clarkson won his wrongful dismissal claim, after all that the court of public opinion would be less likely to find in his favour. And that could leave him in rather a PR desert – which, for such a rampant publicity seeker, could be the worst punishment of all.