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Tears, tennis and Twitter – Wimbledon 2012

Listening to current media debate around Andy Murray’s emotional speech following his hard fought defeat at the hands of the excellent Roger Federer in the Wimbledon 2012 final, you might be forgiven for thinking he’s committed some sort of capital crime.

It’s clear Murray’s actions in front of millions of viewers have polarised opinion – was this an admirable display of passion from a sportsman who’d given it his all only to stumble in the face of greatness, or was it an unnecessary show of self-aggrandising immaturity that should have been cut short?

Is it ever acceptable or beneficial to show emotion when communicating with your target audiences? Does it even matter?

Well, in short, the answer is ‘yes’, as long as any action taken is appropriate to the situation and matches the likely expectations and character of your audience. In this instance it was likely that at least half the nation was desperate for a show of humanity from a man who has previously been criticised for a lack of demonstrable emotion at moments of high tension.

A quick scan of Twitter reinforces the strongly-divided views of those for and against. Comments include:
We have plenty of examples in recent history where the emotional reaction (or lack of) has drawn criticism or praise, ranging from the Royal Family misjudging public mood in the wake of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, through to Gazza’s non-stop tears following England’s defeat to Germany in the 1990 World Cup.

  • “You try the Andy Murray technique – crying to try to make people like you more. Doesn’t work. Makes you look an even bigger loser.”
  • “Wow, yesterday’s Wimbledon final, the ‘Murray’ final as the British media are calling it, pulled 17 million viewers.”
  • “Anyone else get all choked up listening to Andy Murray’s runner-up speech at Wimbledon, or was that just me?”

Crying, shouting, sofa-jumping (Tom Cruise on Oprah) can make a significant difference to how brands are communicated and perceived. The fine line between being judged a success or failure in communication terms largely comes down to one thing – sincerity. This is something rarely achieved by bankers attempting to justify their value-add after receiving an eye-watering bonus, but in Murray’s case it was there by the truckload.

One likely outcome, besides Murray’s profile sky-rocketing, is that existing and prospective sponsors will be queuing up to capitalise on this fresh display of humanity, passion and determination. If handled effectively and allied with global brands that display similar qualities this will ultimately translate into a profitable return for all concerned.

Imagine what this might become if he wins next year?