Sky Sports


The row over sexist comments has deflected the focus from the broadcaster's offer.

Whether you perceived it as harmless banter or casual chauvinism at its worst, there is no doubt that Sky Sports' sexism scandal has called the broadcaster's brand image into question.

While the majority of its audience is male, it would be disingenuous to suggest all would agree with Richard Keys that it was just 'lads' mag banter'.

The furore kicked off when presenters Richard Keys and Gray were recorded off-air during the Liverpool vs Wolverhampton Wanderers Premiership match on 22 January, claiming that, because she is a woman, assistant referee Sian Massey would be unable to understand the offside rule.

That in itself was enough to spark public outrage and dominate the headlines. As seen in our graph, the soaring volume of negative online chat reflected public opinion.

More footage emerged the following week, of Gray asking a female colleague to tuck a microphone down his trousers, while an audio recording of Keys talking to Jamie Redknapp, found him using inappropriate language in relation to the ex-footballer's private life.

Gray was sacked and Keys resigned, but is that the end of Sky Sports' problem? We asked Kevin Peake, marketing director of Npower, which has sponsored programming on Sky Sports for the past 10 years, and Jon Tipple, head of planning at McCann Erickson, which has collaborated with equality campaigners Kick It Out on a video to challenge sex discrimination in football.

Diagnosis Two industry experts on how Sky Sports can get past the sexism furore

KEVIN PEAKE marketing director, Npower

Figures show that people, especially women, are taking to social media forums to air their upset at Keys' and Gray's exposed off-camera comments, but I'd be very surprised if this did any lasting damage to Sky's reputation.

In the past 10 years of our sponsorship, we have seen Sky Sports at close quarters and the professionalism is outstanding: it has changed the face of sports in Britain.

That said, recent studies show that web users recall more brand negatives than positives. So, when potentially brand-damaging news like this breaks, companies need to work quickly.

This is particularly true in this case, because we know from research that women are more likely to use their smartphones to tweet or network on the move.

It is essential in these kinds of situations for brands to decide swiftly on the right strategy to adopt - whether that is issuing an apology, making sure that all staff are on the same page or simply deciding to maintain a dignified silence. …

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