Can Livestrong Survive the Lance Scandal?
Published: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 3, 2013 21:02
After his not-so-surprising confession on Oprah, Lance Armstrong confirmed many American’s speculations: he had been doping throughout his career. Unfortunately, it’s not only Armstrong that we should be worried about. His foundation, Livestrong, supports those living with cancer and provides families resources. The foundation must now outlast the media hailstorm that his confession has sparked. Setting Livestrong apart from Lance is no easy task. His career and celebrity status has been linked to the organization from the beginning, and many donors have asked for a refund on their donations. What can Livestrong continue to do great work, yet set themselves apart from Armstrong?
Livestrong made a smart first step in acknowledging Armstrong’s confession, and making a statement to the public about the future of the foundation. “…Earlier this week, Lance apologized to our staff and we accepted his apology in order to move on and chart a strong, independent course.”
Without Armstrong’s corporate sponsors and celebrity status to help them market, Livestrong must begin the process of rebranding their image to the public. By finding other celebrities to help represent and market Livestrong, they can maintain their dominance as a cancer support charity. Livestrong needs someone who can take over as the face of the foundation. While Lance was an ideal candidate due to his struggle with cancer, there are other celebrities who could take over and smooth the transition of Livestrong away from Armstrong and into the future. For example, Livestrong could use the charisma and young blood that Gabby Douglas, Olympic All-Around Gymnastics gold medalist, could offer.
Americans everywhere who have been supporters of Livestrong are now asking themselves if they can continue to support the foundation. The question is simple: Did Lance’s doping directly affect the work that Livestrong did? In my opinion, the answer is no. In theory, donors gave their money not because of Armstrong’s celebrity or to get a yellow bracelet, but to support the work that Livestrong did for cancer patients. While it is acceptable to be outraged that Armstrong lied and cheated, there is no reason that people should discontinue their patronage to Livestrong. The foundation must make the distinction between Lance and the cancer work very clear in order to proceed forward with little damage.
Think of it this way: Tiger Woods cheated on his wife with many women. While most people believe that his actions weren’t honorable, they still watch and enjoy the sport of golf. The same goes for Livestrong and Lance Armstrong. Though the two are connected, Livestrong is bigger than one visible supporter.
If Livestrong asserts their independence from Lance, rebrands their image with a new celebrity, and makes a clear distinction between the actions one person took versus the good they do as a cancer support system, they will be able to ride out the storm. The public’s outrage with Lance will undoubtedly coincide with a dip in donations for the Livestrong Foundation, but with the foundation’s solid base of supporters and some good marketing, Livestrong will continue to be a beacon in the darkness for those suffering with cancer.