Do not lend your reputation

Do not lend your reputation

Once upon a time, I came across several advertisements and billboard ads featuring a former colleague where he endorsed a certain brand and line of products. Having worked in promotions and advertising in the early years of my professional life, I was a bit puzzled, given the fact that I was certain he does not and never used the product and has nothing to do with the industry or application of the product line he was promoting. We eventually met up and I inquired if he had gone into the business, which would explain his endorsement. To his credit, my former colleague readily confessed that he had not and it was simply a transactional endorsement. It was a rather awkward moment but I had to know, given how truth in advertising dictates that we know the product, use the product and believe in the product. If not, then we have no business sharing our name or reputation with it.

Given that the politicians are now filing their COCs I believe that today’s column is an appropriate reminder about endorsements and public support for candidates. There are a couple of verses in the Bible that substantially applies to the matter of sharing our reputation and credibility with others, particularly in the field of politics. The first one I will cite is what you might call a direct quote from God in the book of Isaiah, chapter 42 verse 8, where God declares: “I am the Lord; That is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols.” We immediately accept that declaration because for all intents and purposes the Lord is God. But how does this apply to the public figures or personalities who are known endorsers or might be tempted to endorse a product or politician?

Many endorsers and their business managers defend it as a right to earn a living and it’s just a job or transaction. That, as they say, is the short sighted view of a cash-driven personality. Go back in recent history and check the status of the endorsers in the past who shared their reputation, their glory and the praise of their followers with a bad product or, even worse, a really bad politician. Many of them discovered that when they signed the endorsement contract, little did they imagine that their careers would be co-terminus with the product or the politician they endorsed. Sure, they were flying high and happy to be rubbing elbows with the powerful, until they discovered how loathsome a certain mayor, congressman or Cabinet member was. Even Presidents.

Imagine lending your face to an insurance company or pre-need plan or product that failed to deliver as promised and absconded with the hard earned investments of parents or worse, caused injury or death to children or the elderly. No amount of money will give you peace for going to bed with a fiend or a fraud. Some good people I know lent their reputation and endorsement believing a certain candidate was the right one, only to regret their haste and willingness to align with an actual stranger.

To be honest, the worst I’ve done was to help out in an event for a candidate who I actually believed in but did not undertake due diligence regarding the person’s character or reputation. I helped out because a relative asked for my help. Two years later I discovered that the candidate was nothing more than the patron saint of lobbyists and vested business interests who, in the words of a detractor, “smoked like a chimney and drank like a sailor.” I have not forgiven myself for that carelessness and that is good, because it protects me from casually lending support to “ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

Aside from the short sightedness and failure to do “due diligence” on a candidate or quality of a product, we need to consider if the candidate or product is truly aligned with and representative of our own values and what the public sees or knows of us. This alignment is what St. Paul was referring to in part when he wrote the second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 6 verse 14: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

In a political setting, this is the same reason why political parties are at odds constantly because they represent opposing perspectives and philosophy. Nothing good or long lasting comes out of their so-called coalitions. They may all be accomplished politicians but that is all they have in common: politics. When it finally boils down to what their reputations are all about, any misalignment or cooperating with the enemy is deemed treacherous or treason.

Being equally yoked has been explained time and again as effortless work because of shared burden and cooperation regarding the pace and direction we agree upon. But that is difficult if not burdensome if one person is inclined to the left while the other is inclined to the right. No individual can possibly associate themselves or be in the constant company of a pig unless the person or endorser raises pigs, feeds pigs and teaches about raising pigs, just like I do for BMeg Feeds. Alongside my hobby of raising pigs and chickens and game fowls, I spend one hour a day five days a week interviewing public figures, politicians, scientists and celebrities. I spend at least an hour or two reading and watching the news, analyzing events and developments and I also spend an average of three hours developing and writing every opinion piece I submit for Ctalk.

So if at some point I endorsed or lent my reputation to someone or something, it is because I have determined an alignment with such. This is all very important because our reputation is not ours. It is what others who love or respect us have given us and we should all place a priceless value on it. God bless.

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