Recently, one of the world’s most beloved athletes, Manny Pacquiao, shocked everyone around the globe after he publicly declared his views on homosexuality.
As a devout and outspoken Christian, the ‘People’s Champion’ as he is called in his country, said during a local interview that “[…] if we allow male to male or female to female, then that makes us worse than animals.”
Needless to say that his statement caused a major uproar from the LGBT community and their supporters. After all, his words were an inherently bigoted and intolerant view that (quite fortunately) is no longer shared by majority. And now Pacquiao found himself at the center of a PR nightmare.
Apologies were issued, of course. But not before his two million Twitter followers were whittled down to thirty thousand, and Nike, arguably the the biggest sports brand today, dropped him as an endorser.
So let’s hash this out—
Right or wrong, these are the beliefs of a man who has brought so much honour to his chosen sport. In an ideal world, no one can judge him for what he believes in. While most of the world erupted in a maelstrom of fury, there are a handful that will wholeheartedly agree with his views. And that’s their right too.
But there’s also the inevitable part of Pacquiao being a sports icon—a celebrity—where his reputation, beliefs and everything that he says and does will predictably make an impact beyond the ropes of the boxing ring. This fact now gives Pacquiao a responsibility—one that ensures that he must choose his words carefully and with respect to everyone who is listening.
This isn’t to say that he shouldn’t be true to his beliefs. But he could’ve done so in a manner that gave respect to both his personal faith and the millions of people who didn’t share it. As a global personality and an aspiring political senate contender in his home country, this is a man whose success was built on talent and humble charm, and it is now scarred by intolerant comments that will forever haunt him as his sports career nears its end. It’s unfortunate that despite being an eight time champion, this is now the legacy that he leaves behind.
On the flipside, how is this going to impact a brand as ubiquitous as Nike? Their quick response to drop Pacquiao in a bid to distance corporate beliefs with the boxer seem to have vindicated the LGBT community, but many are questioning why just now? Pacquiao didn’t form an opinion about gay marriage in just the last two weeks; his beliefs stem from years of faith and a staunch certainty in the bible’s words. Maybe he wasn’t right to represent a brand that globally bannered their acceptance and support for the LGBT community in the first place.
Cutting ties with an endorser who blatantly disagreed with what their brand stood for was solid proof of Nike’s support for the LGBT community. But in an industry that seeks to highlight the reasons that you should believe in something and empower people to give their support, is that enough? Couldn’t they have done more to make sure that their endorsers truly shared and represented their values as well?
What do you think? We’d love to hear from you. Sound off in the comments section below. And if you have a pressing crisis that needs to to be addressed, you can get in touch with us by visiting our website at http://affluencepr.com/ and send us a message.