The Good and Bad of Phil Mickelson’s Insider Trading Scandal 

Phil MickelsonPhil Mickelson’s squeaky clean image has come under scrutiny as the golf hall of famer is confronted with accusations of insider trading that may jeopardize lucrative endorsement deals that earn him nearly $30 million annually.

The four-time major champion along with Las Vegas gambler William T. Walters have been named in an F.B.I. investigation citing the two may have acted on information given to them by activist investor Carl Icahn about his planned takeover bid of Clorox in 2011.

Needless to say, Icahn’s takeover bid failed, but both Mickelson and Walters apparently traded Clorox shares during the time of the takeover attempt.  Whether or not Icahn breached any fiduciary duty to his own investors remains unclear, published reports indicate that Mickelson and Walters appear to have done nothing illegal. 

Any publicity is never good publicity. Look at what scandals did to Tiger Woods and celebrity chef Paula Deen, although both seem to be on the turnaround.  Marital troubles and a racist remark that may have been taken out of context created a firestorm of bad press that sent sponsors fleeing.

While Mickelson and Walters deny any wrongdoing, just the association linked to a scandal can raise an eyebrow or two.  For the pro golfer, however, a sign of humanity pitted against a near perfect perception actually may not be a bad thing after all.

Consider the fact that most Americans love a comeback, especially someone they can identify with whom may have gone through some kind of misfortune.  Even voters have changed their image of the perfect candidate, finally realizing politicians are just imperfect human beings.

A journey through the proverbial abyss not only builds character, but makes for a slightly better story.  And for Mickelson, that could mean even more sponsorship deals.

Soon-to-Be Short-lived Downfall of TV Host Paula Deen

It happens time and again.  A celebrity, actor, athlete or journalist, does or says something bad or politically incorrect and gets bad publicity, loses a sponsorship deal, and gets fired.  Some time passes, as well as a little goodwill and positive PR, and a second chance is granted.

Paula Deen Recently Under Fire For Racist Comments

One of the more recent nationally publicized scandals is the case of Tiger Woods.  Just a few years ago he was caught red-handed for infidelity and lost most of his sponsorship deals valued in the tens of millions of dollars.  At the time, this blog wrote about the brand power of the world’s number one golfer and predicted his reemergence.  Needless to say, Woods is back on top.

The same goes for politics.  Former GOP Governor Mark Sanford’s recent victory over Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in a congressional South Carolina special election has political pundits shaking their heads in disbelief.  The infamous governor made national headlines just a couple of years ago when he admitted having an extramarital affair and went missing for one week and lied about his whereabouts.  During this time, he also was pressured to resign as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and was censured by the state assembly for ethics violations and faced impeachment hearings.

Several factors influenced Sanford’s victory.  Voter short term memory is one of them.  In fact, the American public always likes an underdog or great comeback story.  Like Woods and Sanford, TV food show host Paula Deen most likely will recover if she plays her cards correctly.  Fans already have come out in support of Deen including many high profile celebrities in the black community.  This is especially helpful since racism is at the core of the backlash against Deen.

Rallying the base always is a good start, even better if it happens organically which seems to be the case for Deen.  Anything contrived can backfire as the jury is still out on her appearance last week on Today.  Consensus says Deen will remerge better than before if she is sincere and steadfast.  The question remains is if she has strong enough brand power to recover.