Ozzie Guillen: Lost in Transition

Ozzie Guillen is one of the more well-known managers in major league baseball. Mainly for his out-of-line mouth than his managerial chops. His most recent mistake helps to illustrate the importance of knowing your audience and developing the right messages to communicate effectively with them.

Everything was expected to change this year, as the team brought in Guillen, built a brand new beautiful stadium, and brought in several marquis free agents to build on the team’s strong core.

The season just started last week, and the team is in crisis. Ozzie Guillen was featured in an interview where he was asked to name the toughest man he knows. The full quote is below:

“Fidel Castro,” he said. “He’s a bull—- dictator and everybody’s against him, and he still survives, has power. Still has a country behind him. Everywhere he goes they roll out the red carpet. I don’t admire his philosophy. I admire him.”

Taking a political stance is tough for any brand. By definition, one side is supported and the other is not. It’s why many companies and their spokespeople go for a politically correct position that offends no one. And even then, carefully crafted messages can still be taken the wrong way and cause a stir. Guillen’s mistake is particularly egregious, for he directly went against the very people he is trying to court.

For Guillen to say he admires Castro is a clear misunderstanding of your audience. Miami has more than 850,000 Cuban American residents, more than any other US city, and anti-Castro sentiment runs deep. That he was reported as saying “I love Fidel Castro” will make it even more difficult to attract fans, regardless of a new stadium or good players.

The backlash is well into play, as locals in Miami are protesting the team. Guillen has been suspended by the team (as opposed to the league) for five games, which is more of a slap on the wrist than a serious punishment. Guillen claims he was “thinking in Spanish and speaking in English” and got confused. It’s a commendable attempt to cover himself, but ultimately falls short. The damage is done and the fans are furious.

If you were running the Marlins, what would be your solution to this PR crisis? Does a five-game suspension solve the problem? Does Guillen needs to be fired? How else can the team make it up the fans?  Let us know in the comments below, and if you like this post, please share it.

Posted on April 13, 2012, in The Hit Board and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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