When I first read reports of Ryan Lochte joining the cast of "Dancing with the Stars" I just shook my head and thought, “Really ABC?” Then, when it was confirmed that he was indeed signed on for the new season it really angered me.
ABC is claiming that they were in talks with Lochte to do this before the whole Olympics fiasco, but I don’t buy it. This is nothing more than a poor attempt to get ratings. Will it work? Heck yeah it will, but that’s beside the point.
If in fact they were talking to him before he embarrassed himself and the entire United States, they should have dropped him and made a statement. He did apologize for his antics in Rio, but it’s still no reason to give this clown more media attention -- and even worse, use him to draw "Dancing with the Stars" viewers.
I jokingly said that they should replace him with me -- but you know what? It’s not as crazy as it may sound. My first job was working for my dad’s wedding photography business lugging and setting up equipment. There was always at least one overly-drunk bridal party member who would bring me on the dance floor -- my moves are legit. In all seriousness, ABC should replace Lochte with anyone that’s available.
“There is no such thing as bad publicity.”
While I agree with this statement to an extent, this situation is different -- Lochte is a bad look for the network -- for several reasons, which I touch on below.
Rewarding bad behavior.
Our society loves to reward idiots -- with media exposure, endorsement deals and reality TV shows. ABC should want to differentiate itself from the other networks and this would have been the perfect opportunity to show the public that they are "the better network," but instead they have shown that they are like everyone else.
“Just because someone is trending on Google it doesn't necessarily mean you want your brand attached to them," says Craig De Borba, CEO of OnPoint Internet Marketing. I couldn’t agree more – our conversation started after I pulled up the Google Trends result for Lochte. As you can see below, searches for him are at an all time high.
Lochte embarrassed himself and the U.S.
What Lochte did was stupid -- he knows it and the entire world knows it. I’m sure he would make different decisions if he could redo that situation, but there is no erasing the past. He embarrassed not only himself, but the entire country as well.
If "Dancing with the Stars" wanted to bring on an Olympian to leverage that buzz for ratings, then great. That’s intelligent marketing. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be a gold medal winner -- anyone that gave it his or her all over in Rio and represented his or her country in a positive manner has my vote over Lochte.
Again, ABC is rewarding stupidity.
Potential loss of viewers.
I would like to think that ABC will lose some viewers over the decision to cast Lochte. Find me one person aware of the situation that will openly say, “Oh wow, that’s a great pick.” This could potentially be a very big mistake for the network.
I’m willing to bet they will push more viewers away than they will pull in with this move. The “I’m going to start watching 'Dancing with the Stars' because Ryan Lochte is on this season” demographic has to be extremely small.
Not a smart move when the series has been experiencing a decline in viewers. Are they just so desperate for ratings that Lochte is believed to be the only thing to save the franchise? Possibly.
"Dancing with the Stars" dropped the (Mirror)ball.
Instead of making a statement and dropping Lochte from their lineup, just like Speedo, Polo Ralph Lauren, Gentle Hair Removal and Airweave have, they are using him to attract attention. Listen, I am all about creative marketing and branding -- it’s what I do for a living -- but this is just a bad look.
To the producers of "Dancing with the Stars": get in touch with me. I’m ready to tear that dance floor up next season -- and you can donate all of my winnings to the American Cancer Society. That is how you do positive PR.
Am I crazy? Yes. Am I a dreamer? Yes.
I'm also an entrepreneur -- and those are two things that you need in your DNA if you want to be successful.