January 31, 2013

Avoiding a Super Bowl halftime nightmare

After a slew of recent halftime scandals, network execs now bite their nails and hope the performer sticks to his or her script to avoid a PR nightmare!

Come Sunday, I — along with millions of other Americans — will be sitting on my couch surrounded by good friends, ice-cold beer and wings. My eyes will be glued to the nearest flat-screen to watch (and criticize) the Super Bowl halftime show. Aside from the advertisements, this spectacle is one of the main reasons many people even watch the Super Bowl. So it’s safe to say that the stakes are high.

Producers can have a tough time choosing the right artist to create a blockbuster halftime show, and often, this comes with a price. After a slew of recent halftime scandals, network execs now bite their nails and hope the performer sticks to his or her script to avoid a PR nightmare! Dealing with everything from Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004 to M.I.A. flipping America off during last year’s Super Bowl, these execs have been forced to become crisis communication experts. They have to be ready to deal with all sorts of “artistic expression.”

These kinds of antics not only cast the artist in an unflattering light, but also the network. NBC did the best it could by issuing an apology after M.I.A.’s spectacle last year. But this year, things are a little different.

Beyoncé, set to star in the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show, is facing a PR challenge of her own. After being accused of lip-synching at the second inaugural ceremony for President Obama just weeks before her Super Bowl performance, she must now mend her image. Her publicist’s refusal to comment on the rumors hasn’t helped. Crisis communication means keeping the lines of information open, being accessible and never saying “no comment.” Beyoncé’s publicist must come clean about her reasons for using a backup track at a high-profile event. Otherwise, her image will remain in jeopardy.

As a big fan, I hate to see Beyoncé’s reputation damaged, but the reason she is so fabulous is clearly not based solely on her vocal expertise. She was hired for her dynamic performing abilities. Will she avoid lip-synching at the Super Bowl to make amends for the inaugural crisis? Is it even possible to put on a fabulous, glitch-free Beyoncé-like performance without a backup track? Because that’s what we want when we watch the halftime show.

The question is, what will we get?

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