Belieb’ing in Repair

Our team chose to analyze Justin Bieber and how he immediately handled the communications issues that surrounded him whenever he chose to partake in poor ethical decision making. While Bieber had many poor decisions, we decided to focus on three incidents to further study those at a deeper level.

When we began our study we looked into past studies so that way we could have a framework and a brief understanding on PR studies of other celebrities. We looked at studies about Michael Phelps and other celebrities. From this we were able to tell that important and some of the most successful tactics were mortification to be able to repair a celebrity image. On top of this, we were able to see how the image of a celebrity before a crisis can affect how quickly or slowly an image can be repaired as well. Unsurprisingly, if a celebrity or brand has a great reputation and track record, one mistake can easily be fixed in comparison with a poor track record with lots of mistakes.

In our research, which is in total over 40 pages of materials not including our code sheets, we were able to analyze Justin Bieber and his team’s success or lack thereof of repairing his image after the following three scandals: urinating in a mop bucket and curing the name of President Bill Clinton, assaulting a limo driver and finally, getting arrested with a DUI charge. Each one of these events was detrimental to the reputation of Justin Bieber, whose brand image had been known for his innocent and charming young boy reputation. He was admired by young female fans, and these antics were a direct hit to his target demographic, fan base, and ultimately customers — the parents of these young female fans who hold the purse strings to which CD, concert ticket, and other items get purchased.

The research questions that we sought to answer were the following:
What image repair strategies did Justin Bieber use to respond to the negative public relations incidents that occurred during his scandals?
How effective were the image repair strategies that Justin Bieber used during these scandals?

After looking at media coverage, analyzing Bieber’s responses on social media, we were able to answer these questions. Overall, his strategies were not that impressive. He had no positive coverage that we could find surrounding these scandals or his responses to them. While the majority of the coverage was neutral, just detailing the facts, there was a good section that spoke of his scandal quite negatively, and many called him names. When Bieber did respond, he didn’t use mortification tactics and ultimately our team believes this was to his demise.

In comparison, when Bieber released his album, Purpose, he finally began using the mortification strategies and tactics, and that is when you can start to see his image repair truly begin. But while Bieber was not using these tactics, ultimately his reputation was slowly sinking and many were concerned that he would never be able to repair his worldwide brand and his career.


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