08 Jan The Biggest News From CES – Michael Bay’s Onstage Disaster
Everyone is talking about the biggest news at this year’s Consumer Electronic Show (CES). No, it’s not an amazing new product that can brush your teeth, drive you to work, and take care of your child at the same time. The attention is on Michael Bay’s reaction as he walked off the stage at Samsung’s press event. Bay is one of the biggest directors in Hollywood right now (Transformers, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, etc.) Suffice to say, he’s been in the limelight a time or two, making yesterday’s incident all that more buzz-worthy.
When Bay walked on stage at one of the largest events of the year to promote Samsung’s newest TV, a curved 105-inch UHD TV, he committed his name to a brand, which he later wrote in a personal blog post is something that he does not often do. For any company, especially one as large as Samsung, finding a spokesperson for your brand is an important yet difficult decision to make. The company needs to find someone that can take the brand to another level—for consumers to see a spokesperson and say, “I want that too.” Every time I see Jennifer Aniston (yes, I’m admitting my shameless celebrity crush) promote a new product, I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to try it out.
Now, Bay didn’t pull a Tiger Woods or Paula Dean (as my co-worker Jonathan debated here), and Samsung’s image isn’t tarnished by its affiliation with the director, but I can guarantee it was a PR headache Samsung could have done without.
As Samsung’s spokesperson, Bay had a responsibility to prepare for the event as opposed to just showing up and thinking he could skate through his speech. Even if the teleprompter failed, he should have been familiar enough with the product to improvise. Instead, he fumbled through words for a minute and then walked off the stage.
Later, he tried to explain his actions in a blog post noting, “I guess live shows aren’t my thing.” It wasn’t an apology for his actions, but an excuse. Things happen; people mess up and make mistakes. Samsung’s PR team should have made sure he was prepared; his people (I’m sure he has people) should have made sure he was prepared.
So lessons learned for all those involved?
Know Your Limits – If public speaking isn’t “your thing” don’t go on a live stage at one of the biggest events of the year.
Media Training – It doesn’t hurt to practice public speaking; CEOs, government officials, and celebrities alike.
Preparation – As with any important event—client meeting, reporter interview, live event—a little preparation is required, even if you’ve done it a million times before (although it sounds like Bay didn’t have much experience in this department).
Humility – Everyone makes mistakes, but the best professionals embrace the moment and carry on. If you fall, dust yourself off and keep on going; don’t walk away.