Maria Sharapova's brand has been tarnished by public opinion almost overnight.
She was tested positive for meldonium, a banned substance, in January at the Australian Open. Several sponsors cut ties immediately, leading to severe repercussions for the hugely famous Russian professional tennis player.
The importance of maintaining your brand image jumped at me after hearing about Sharapova. The thing is that she had been taking meldonium for 10 years (since 2006). The drug was only banned in January this year. The message is clear, just because your business/department has a set way of doing something doesn't mean it will always be the right way.
We need to be constantly assessing and reviewing our methods to make sure it is the best way. Sure perhaps using Twitter in the same way we did 5 years ago may not seem as severe as Sharapova;s situation, but if you are losing potential customers and decreasing your ROI potential, then I would say it is serious.
Sharapova is one of the highest paid female athletes, but that did not protect her from losing her sponsorship deals. The sponsors themselves cut ties to protect their own brand images. Perception is super important.
Nike is taking a "very proactive approach", which resulted from "them being burned by a lot of athletes over the years, and growing impatient with putting so much investment behind athletes that potentially comes back to bite them in the court of public opinion