Hank Williams, Social Media Crisis Management, and the Contract Morals Clause

Hank Williams must go into crisis management mode immediately if he wants to retain his corporate marketability. This morning on “Fox and Friends” Williams appeared to compare President Obama to Adolf Hitler. Williams was asked to clarify his initial analogy and he stated that Obama and Vice President Biden are “the enemy.” Subsequently, ESPN pulled his opening for this evening’s Monday Night Football game.

During the past 23 seasons, Williams has provided an introduction for Monday Night Football based off of his hit song “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight.” If Williams does not want to permanently harm his corporate marketability he must act swiftly and apologize for his remarks. If not, ESPN may permanently remove his opening act from Monday Night Football and the NFL community may distance itself from him in the same manner that CBS ended its relationship with Jimmy (the Greek) Snyder for his comments in 1988 regarding African-American athletes.

A well-drafted morals clause may provide ESPN the ability to terminate its relationship with Williams for his comments without having to pay him for the duration of his contract. A contract morals clause provides a company the ability to terminate the services of an endorser if the endorser engages in activity that is inconsistent with a company’s public image.

Williams’ response over the next couple days will determine whether the NFL community will continue to embrace him. It is possible the incident may blow over. However, in the Social Media Age one comment, blog post, YouTube video, or Tweet has the ability to forever change one’s circumstances. Therefore, the sooner Williams demonstrates remorse the better chance he has of retaining his relationship with ESPN and the NFL.

To learn how to respond to a crisis in the Social Media Age you may contact me at www.shearlaw.com.

Copyright 2011 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved. Link

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  1. Thank you for contributing to the conversation. Williams initial statement regarding the incident should have shown more contrition. At this point, I believe there is a strong possibility he will no longer be part of Monday Night Football.

  2. ESPN should ban him for life over his comment regardless of whether he apologizes. I'm sorry, but there are just some things you can NEVER be fully forgiven for, and comparing a sitting president to the most vile, heinous, evil human being in the history of mankind is one of them. Williams is free to speak his mind all he wants, but he now has to face the consequences of that speech.

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