January 3, 2014
The Rock’s Herculean PR Effort
Dwayne Johnson, the former wrestler known worldwide as, “The Rock”, continues to parlay his successful career in the squared circle to success on the big screen as the go-to quirky action star. Johnson’s charisma is undeniable, and his fan base makes just about any film a strong contender at the box office.
Set for a summer 2014 release, Hercules: The Thracian Wars, the story of the demigod’s life after completing his legendary 12 labors, is already receiving serious press.
So far, the reaction from both fans, and critics has been relatively warm, and hopeful. This is good news, considering the tragic end of The Rock’s other current movie project. Johnson was set to reprise his role as Hobbs in the latest Fast and the Furious film. However, that project was delayed – and likely scrapped – after the untimely death of franchise star, Paul Walker.
Desperate for some positive PR after that horrific accident, Johnson’s fans are flocking to the web in search of information about the Hercules movie. Where once the film may have been another summer blockbuster, the buzz it is generating may very well push Hercules over the top.
Ronn Torossian says this is a solid example of how life goes on after a tragedy. When something horrific happens, people always seem to ask, “what now?” The eventual answer that everyone arrives at in their own time is, of course, life goes on. But it’s that transition that can create a PR challenge.
Fans want more, but they may feel guilty about leaving aside the pain so quickly. It’s up to the brand – in this case Johnson – to lead the way. Torossian said that this situation is being handled well, and offers three benchmarks for a smooth transition.
Take the time to grieve
Most everyone who knew Walker appreciated him. They took the time to honor him in the best way they could, and did not hide their grief. This allows fans to grieve as well, a mutually cathartic exercise.
Focus on the positive
Without saying they moved on, people then moved on. Dwayne went back to working on promoting Hercules, and did not dwell on what might happen with Fast/Furious.
Respect the reactions of fans
Because everyone grieves in their own way, not every Rock fan will be ready to move on to the next project. Many are frustrated that they will not be able to see their Fast/Furious “friends” on screen, and they may take longer to buy in to the new project. Johnson’s PR team might be focused on promoting Hercules but he – and they – need to be ready to field questions about Fast/Furious as well.