Last night, Blizzard debuted another one of their celebrity ad spots during a football game. It featured Chuck Norris, of eponymous joke fame, with a fairly annoying and offensive Asian stereotype voice-over, running around beating people up as a melee hunter. Funny, right?
Eh, maybe not as funny as I imagined. Why is that, you ask? Probably because Chuck Norris has publically gone on record espousing many views that are fairly bigoted. Like that schools should feature a more conservative agenda, Day of Silence shouldn’t be held, and other such fun ideas like how he dislikes Roe vs. Wade. The fact that these links from his own blog and various websites go back a couple years shows a progression of ideas that he is free to express, but are not exactly friendly towards a particular segment of the possible World of Warcraft population.
But Cider, you say, what does it matter what he says on his silly site? Blizzard was just using him for Chuck Norris jokes!
Maybe it is because I’m a general peon in the scheme of things, and not an actual PR practitioner but I believe that when you use a celebrity to endorse your product, you endorse their name, clout and image. If that image is them also spouting off stuff on the Internet (which -is- important these days), then you are tacitly endorsing that too. Nothing a celebrity says or does in the public eye exists in the vacuum, especially in these days when celebrities have easy access to social media. This is why celebs lose contracts and endorsements from backing companies when they do something that the company doesn’t agree with, especially if it hurts their image. You don’t want your puppy chow associated with a known animal mistreater, you don’t want your brand of vodka associated with someone who racks up a DWI. So if you want to be a company that is friendly to all your customers, not using someone who wants to leave some of them out is a good idea. The fact that Chuck Norris has a history of saying these things long before Blizzard reached out to him is problematic at best. It’s no Corpsegrinder, but it does leave me with some questions about the thoroughness of Blizzard’s vetting of celebrities or maybe even outright dismissal that it is important.
That all being said, why can’t we use a more nerdy, awesome celebrity to promote World of Warcraft? Like Mila Kunis (a woman, gasp!) or Vin Diesel. They both play or have played WoW at some point in their career and they don’t quite have the same problematic background as Chuck Norris.