With so many leaks of financial data via major retailers — such as Target and Home Depot — shoppers have become uncomfortably familiar with the notion that their private information could be up for grabs. What makes Apple’s recent public relations issue a little different is that the leak affected the victim’s brand, not their credit.
This leak is Rated R for Mature Audiences
Nude pictures of female celebrities, such as Jennifer Lawrence and Victoria Justice were leaked by hackers in late August. The leaked images spread rapidly through social media platforms. Apple was first mentioned when information about the alleged source of the photos hit the media. Adding to the flames was the second round of hacks, which revealed additional photos from more female celebrities. According to International Business Times, the list of celebrities substantially increased from a couple to 26 after the second leak.
This situation created a number of potential PR crises — both for Apple and for the individual celebrities targeted.
Apple’s head is still in the iCloud
After allegations that the hackers obtained the leaked photos from Apple’s iCloud, an online storage service, the Cupertino, California-based company quickly replied stating they did not have any reports of security breaches. With the multinational corporation holding 41.9 percent of the smartphone market, according to an article on GeekWire, the potential bank of information is more than substantial. Any potential leak could create panic among those who do not think twice when storing their personal pictures on their devices — that often automatically backup to the cloud.
Apple CEO Tim Cook quickly attempted to stomp out any worries by releasing a letter and posting it on one of the company’s sites. Cook detailed how information was used and stored by the company and which measures Apple already has in place to prevent security breaches.
One tweet questioned if the cloud-based storage is safe for other potential security issues.
Whether the allegations were true, and if Cook’s response made any positive impact on the handling of the issue, this issue was a mere speck on the company’s brand approval. The downturn was shortly followed by the successful release announcement of the highly anticipated iPhone 6.
Then again, Apple did bump-up the security in their iOS just a couple of weeks after the initial photo leak.
Celebrities as Brands
To PR practitioners who do not work in the field of entertainment, the leak of a celebrity’s nude photos leaking might not seem like an issue. But these celebrities represent more than just themselves as a person. They represent their brand, the studios they work for, sponsors they speak on behalf of, and other partners outside of their normal realm of acting, singing or whatever. Celebrities are the equivalent to some international, multi-million dollar corporations. Their personas, names and images are at the top of multi-tiered organizations that could support hundreds of employees.
To the publicist who represents them, this leak was definitely an issue.
Some celebrities have denied that the pictures are of them. Others have had their publicist speak for them. And the rest, are simply just angry and they are letting people know.
According to BuzzFeed News, Jennifer Lawrence’s spokesperson stated that “This is a flagrant violation of privacy.” Which BuzzFeed states as proving the pictures of the actress are authentic.
How do you feel Apple addressed the leak allegations? Is their increased encryption a sly response or just routine? Do you feel that these photos are truly damaging to the celebrities’ brands or just another scandal in a sea of celebrity lifestyle?