The footage gets out, is shown on the TV news and discussed in the papers. Fast forward to 2011, and contrast this with what has been happening with Sky Sport’s presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys. Their sexist remarks made off-air, but in front of the cameras and with their microphones switched on, have reached a far wider audience than they ever would have ten years ago. The ease with which YouTube videos can be posted within blogs and linked to via Twitter means that even if you don’t watch or read ‘regular’ news, you can’t fail to have seen ‘Skygate’ unravel.
What I’ve found most interesting about all of this, is the effect that the internet is having on the fate of the two presenters. Would Andy Gray have been sacked so quickly if the audio clip hadn’t spread so rapidly? Also, did the additional footage of other inappropriate comments made by Gray and Keys act as the final nails in the former’s coffin? Again, the public’s shock concerning the leaked video clips are all over Twitter. Certainly, it is much more difficult to ignore public outrage when it is recorded in black and white on the internet (and available in glorious Technicolor on YouTube), rather than being expressed within newspaper columns.
Ten years ago, the public simply didn’t have the voice that blogs, Twitter and Facebook has given it, and it would have been much easier for Sky to weather the storm by simply brushing the news under the carpet. Indeed, it is likely the furore would simply have been forgotten about by the papers within a couple of days. However, social media is not just a weather vane for public opinion, it gives it a powerful and far-reaching voice. A brand can only ignore this fact at its peril.