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Blame It on the Alcohol...
By: Jennifer Graber
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Dennis Rodman is not your average character. In fact, his personal brand is known for its eccentricities and colorful statements. Rodman’s latest adventures are certainly no exception to that fact. In recent weeks the basketball player has been traveling to and around North Korea. The purpose of the trip was to participate in an “exhibition basketball game” with other ex-NBA players. But during Rodman’s controversy-laden travels he did more than just play basketball. Rodman has come under fire for interacting with North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un. Maybe it is not the best thing for your personal brand to sing Happy Birthday to the leader of an adversarial country. Or say that the very same leader is “a good guy.”
Rodman’s latest antics regarding his North Korea travels come from an interview on CNN with anchor Chris Cuomo. Cuomo probed Rodman about his personal relationship with Kim Jong Un. Cuomo went on to ask Rodman whether or not he would leverage that relationship to make progress in the case of Kenneth Bae, an imprisoned American missionary. And that is when the interview turned bizarre. Rodman’s reaction was feisty and he fired back at Cuomo. The basketball player’s response insinuated that he felt Bae was at fault for his own imprisonment. Rodman abruptly changed topics and went on to discuss the sacrifices he and his teammates made to participate in this trip. Obviously those statements didn’t sit well with many people. Rodman’s personal brand came under fire for his interview responses. Human rights activists in particular are upset with Rodman and his inciting statements, North Korea travel, and relationship with Kim Jong Un.  
Rodman must’ve felt the heat because he has recently released a statement, via his publicist, apologizing for his actions. Rodman blamed his antics on a combination of stress and alcohol. That’s right, the “goose had him feeling loose.” In his defense, Rodman did say that he realizes alcohol is not an excuse and was remorseful, especially toward Kenneth Bae’s family. Rodman’s statement also revealed that he believed he should not be making political statements and felt that he embarrassed many people.
Does this, or will this, have an effect on Rodman’s personal brand? What happens when a segment or select entity of a brand causes controversy? Will the whole brand suffer repercussions or should that particular segment, or person, be phased out? And what happens when that one segment is the whole brand? You can’t really have the Dennis Rodman brand without Dennis Rodman. Furthermore, is his excuse valid? We wouldn’t necessarily accept the “I’ve been drinking” excuse from certain people. And as a representative of a brand, the only one, really, Rodman is responsible for upholding a certain image. Yes, we know him to be wild and crazy. But when statements become offensive we can’t necessarily chalk it up to “oh, that’s just Dennis.” Regardless of Rodman’s brand personality, he still has responsibilities and general rules he should follow. He is very much allowed to have an opinion and express it, but Rodman needs to be considerate and conscientious of the manner in which he does. The Rodman brand certainly has some rebuilding to do.


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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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