Blog > Why Did Disgraced Matt Hancock’s Rebrand Work?

Why Did Disgraced Matt Hancock’s Rebrand Work?

Why Did Disgraced Matt Hancock’s Rebrand Work?

InBranding, Business Posted onNov 19, 2022

Remember, the moment may have passed, but the lessons are timeless. So what can we learn as business/brand owners from this snapshot in time?

It’s 6th Nov 2022, and the UK is primed for the grand return of “I’m a Celebrity.”

The outlandish show where we witness celebrities being put through their paces as they take on squirmish challenges, from eating kangaroo vagina, to being covered in rats, to see who will be crowned the king or queen of the jungle. 

Every year there is a lineup of thrill-seeking celebrities from all walks of life who use the platform to either grow or reinvigorate their brands. 

Based on how well they do on the show, they go on to enjoy the deals and brand partnerships that come knocking as a result of their newfound popularity.

As they announced this year’s lineup, there seemed to be no real shockers; you had all the usual suspects from daytime TV presenters, comedians, retired sports stars, musicians, soap stars etc. 

However, this year the announcement of Matt Hancock was met with terrible backlash, with the British public shocked that he would have the audacity to want to show his face, much less appear on a reality TV show. 

And although there were many complaints from his fellow MPs and the viewing public resulting in Ofcom receiving nearly 2000 complaints and his suspension from the Conservative Party. 

It didn’t stop the viewers and critics alike from tuning in to watch the spectacle unfold, as a whopping 9.1million viewers tuned in to watch Matt Hancock make his controversial arrival into the ‘I’m A Celebrity’ camp.

So let’s discuss Matt Hancock and his desperate attempt to rebrand.

So what is all the fuss about?

Matt Hancock, a Conservative politician, started his political career in 2010 as the MP of West Sussex and rose to become the health secretary in 2020 under Boris Johnson’s administration. He was forced to resign on 26/06/2021 after a disgraceful term in politics.

He was caught breaking his own covid guidance in order to cheat on his wife with his former aide, Gina Coladangelo.

Under his watch, huge amounts of money was squandered on personal protective equipment(PPE), PPE that was later deemed not fit for purpose. One such contract went to his former pub landlord to the tune of £40million of tax payer’s money.

However, his most shameful act was failing to protect thousands of elderly and disabled residents between March and April of 2020, when he gave the go-ahead for them to be discharged from hospitals back into care homes without the proper tests. It is suspected that many died as a result.

Now before I continue this inquiry into Matt the brand and discuss the rebrand, we first need to look at why I am referring to Matt Hancock as a brand in the first place.

When you say branding, many instantly think of colours, logos and fonts. Every time I hear this, I die a little inside, as this could not be further away from the truth. It’s like if you asked me to describe a house and the only description I gave was window.

With brand assets like colours, logos, and fonts, we are barely scratching the surface, I mean barely.

To truly understand branding and harness its power, we must go deeper and tap into the realm of feeling and emotion. A brand is how a product, company, or individual is perceived by those who experience it. 

The question is, how does a particular person or company make you feel? Because this is what you buy into. 

When you realise this, you realise that the brand is all-encompassing. It is like a living, breathing organism interacting and touching people’s lives even when you are not there.

As Steve Bazos said, “it is what people say about you or your business when you are not in the room.”

And now breathe; as you can see, I love this stuff, it tickles me in places I did not know existed, but I digress. So let’s get back to the matter at hand. 

Before the birth of the Internet, there was a clear distinction between business and personal brands. And the practice of branding was exclusively reserved for big corporations and celebrities that could afford to put their messages, product and service out there. 

Crafting a brand took money and lots of it because exposure was so limited. We only had access to old media channels like radio, TV and billboards, which cost a fortune.

However, with the flattening force of the Internet, everything shifted, and suddenly branding became a way of life. The problem is we are not being taught this.

Because the root of exposure is so vast, we have all become brands whether we like it or not. Let me explain: with every tweet, post, picture or video you post, someone is forming a perception of you, good or bad.

Our personality, thoughts, and feelings are now on show for the entire world to see, and something we have said could be thrust into the limelight, making us an overnight sensation.

Another exciting shift we have witnessed since the Internet flattened the playing field is that the distinct line between the personal and business brand has been eroded.

If you want success in this digital landscape, especially if you are an information-based business, such as a coach, course creator, etc. The two need to work seamlessly, which is why I founded the new strain of branding, Cyber-Celebrity Branding®, as branding has evolved.

With Cyber-Celebrity Branding®, the key is leveraging the power of both by amalgamating them into a Cyber-Celebrity® brand to either start or scale a business online.

[Now, this is another conversation for another blog, so if you want to know more about this topic, click here.]

So from our brief overview of branding, you will see that Mat Hancock, the brand, is currently in ruin. 

During his time as health secretary, he has left a very nasty taste in the mouths of the British public. Unless he does damage control to solve this, this will hinder his earning potential in the future, especially as it is clear that his time in the top spear of politics has come to an end. Proven by the snub he received from Rishi Sunak when he was announced as Prime minister and the new leader of the conservative party.

So what exactly is Matt Hancock doing inside ‘I’m a Celebrity’? Let’s talk rebranding!

Rebranding is a marketing initiative in which a brand’s identity ( i.e. its “look and feel”) is changed, typically to influence how a brand is perceived in the minds of its consumers and stakeholders.

The ploy is to sway public opinion to have a more favourable view of a brand or to make a brand seem more relevant.

As part of the backlash, many people were shocked that Matt would be willing to put himself out there after such public failings and could not understand why he would do it. But when you understand the process of branding, especially Cyber-Celebrity Branding®, it makes perfect sense. 

Matt is hoping to use the show to change public perception, the classic bad boy gone good story.

Having entered the jungle as public enemy number one, he hopes to emerge a vindicated man with a bestselling book under his belt. 

And so his rebrand has commenced. It is important to note that he will be working with a very sophisticated team who understand buyers’ psychology and what it takes to turn public hate into adoration. And they will have carefully crafted his rebrand, with “I’m a Celebrity” as the start of the journey.

It is going to be tough, but clearly, Matt is up for the challenge!

When it comes to rebranding, there are many vices that they will use to build the new perception. But it all boils down to what I call the celebrity formula:

Time + Exposure x Marketing   

Celebrity perception is created over TIME due to the EXPOSURE created by omnipresent MARKETING. 

We see this formula in full effect when we look at Charles and Camilla. After Diana’s death and due to the public outcry, it was widely speculated that Charles would never be King and Camilla would never be Queen. Well, after over 30 years of good publicity, Charles has indeed become King; in fact, the public welcomed him with open arms.

So what exactly is Matt Hancock’s plan?

From what I can see, the vices they will be using to pull this miraculous rebrand off is to:

Give the public their revenge: 

Many people are angry and have been hurt by Mat Hancock’s actions, people who feel that they have not been heard and feel he has not got his just desserts. This is why he and his team would have chosen this show as opposed to, let’s say, “Dancing on ice” or “Strictly come dancing” because of the challenges. 

Whenever the public votes for Matt to do a bush tucker trial, where he is faced with snakes or forced to eat critters, collectively, it’s an opportunity for the public to enact their revenge, to make him suffer for his crimes! 

This is very similar to the punch bag exercise offered to people who suffer from anger, the idea being that as they take their anger out on the punch bag, they will feel less and less angry inside, which is exactly what Matt and his team are bargaining on. The public has behaved exactly as expected, as he has been voted to do challenges again and again.

Win over his house mates:

We can look at the jungle as a microcosm of the macrocosm of real life. Therefore if Matt can win over the other brands within the camp and they offer a sign of forgiveness, this helps Matt’s brand, as the hope is it will encourage the audience watching to do the same. It is what is referred to as pack mentality.

Make people laugh:

There is no greater tool to win someone over than the power of laughter. So Matt will be trying to show this aspect of his personality, which is why, unfortunately, we were exposed to Matt attempting to do the Candy dance. The problem is that this had most of the nation cringing – so clearly, he will have to do better on the laughter front.

Promote his book:

Matt’s team would know that every brand reinvention should be linked to a product; just in case it works, you can at least capitalise straight away from the newfound popularity. And no matter where you sit on the fence, there is no doubt that all of this planned exposure to Matt will create intrigue, which is why a tell-all book is a perfect product. 

Separate the man from the job, tell his story and blame the virus: 

Matt will be working hard to create a distinction between him the person and the “tough decisions” he had to make as a health secretary. 

Thus he wants to create the perception in the people’s minds that the heinous things that he did resulted from the pressure of his job and had nothing to do with him as a person. Of course, where he can, he will blame it on the covid virus. If he can pull this off, he hopes to put the entire thing to bed and emerge anew under the new brand Mat Hancock, the person. 

The next phase is to tell his story, the classic troupe of the flawed man, coupled with “we all make mistakes”. We see this in action in this exchange between him and his fellow campmates:

Chris Moyles began the conversation, asking Hancock: ‘What’s the plan, come out of here, write a book?’

Hancock replied: ‘I’ve just finished a book – Pandemic Diaries. Does what it says on the tin.’

He added: ‘Tells the story straight. Needs telling. Also, there’s going to be an inquiry. That will tell the story straight as well.’

Jill Scott then hilariously chimed in with asking whether these Bushtucker trials were actually practice-runs for the inquiry, sending the camp into laughter. 

Chris then asked Hancock: ‘You got a lockdown fine, didn’t you?’

Hancock replied: ‘No, of course, I didn’t. No I did not. I didn’t break any…’

After Chris interrupted with: ‘You were socialising with someone outside of your household,’ Hancock insisted: ‘I didn’t break any laws. Guidance is different.’

Scarlette Douglas chimed in: ‘So there’s a rule and there’s a law,’ to which Hancock replied: ‘Guidance is guidance. But the problem was it was my guidance.’

Scarlette further pressed: ‘Why did you break your own guidance?’

Hancock replied: ‘Because it was a mistake, because I fell in love with somebody.’

In the Bush Telegraph, he added: ‘In a way, lots of the campmates asked questions that the public have got as well, and it’s only respectful to just give completely straight and truthful answers.’

When Scarlette pressed Hancock on his actions, he replied: ‘That’s why I apologised for it.’

Charlene then grilled Hancock with her own personal story, saying ‘sorry doesn’t cut it.’

She shared: ‘It’s massively bigger than that. My aunt died from Covid in the first wave. So, we couldn’t go to the hospital to go and visit her.

‘I had to sit by myself in the church at her funeral. We couldn’t hug each other because we were following guidance.

‘And I get that you fell in love, I understand all of those things, but sorry for a lot of families like mine doesn’t really cut it.’

Scarlette echoed: ‘It’s not enough.’

Hancock admitted stories like that are why he ‘regrets’ what happened before Charlene questioned: ‘Do you have regret regarding the way that as health minister you dealt with the pandemic as a whole?’

Hancock replied: ‘So the pandemic as a whole no, I’m much, much more robust in my defence of it,’ before defending his actions as health secretary.

He said: ‘So PPE for instance, I know, of course I saw what happened to it, but that’s because we suddenly needed masses more PPE and so did everybody else in the world.

‘And care homes, there were reasons for the decisions that were taken and ultimately those problems were caused by the virus, not the people who were trying to solve the problem.’

He later added to Charlene: ‘Do you know what it is actually, what I’m really looking for is a bit of forgiveness, that’s what I’m really looking for.’

When Scarlette added she ‘nearly cried’, Hancock admitted: ‘so did I’.

‘We all make mistakes, I made a pretty big one,’ he added, before saying in the Bush Telegraph: ‘I wasn’t really expecting it, but it did get very emotional.’

So now that we have looked at some of the vices that Matt Hancock will be using in his rebrand, all that is left to see is whether stage 1 of the rebrand is successful. And for that, only time will tell. Based on previous shows, Matt will have around two weeks to launch the Matt Hancock charm offensive, as this is how long they have on average before the viewing public can start voting.

I would conclude that if Matt is not voted off in the first elimination, then this is a sign that the Matt Hancock rebrand is well and truly on its way.


The Moral Of The Branding Story:

When it comes to business/branding, you may decide it is time for a rebrand. However, like Matt Hancock, you may not have millions to spend. If that is the case, here is a quick breakdown of the things that you should consider:

  1. Reestablish your brand’s audience and market.
  2. Redefine your vision, mission, and values.
  3. Consider a possible rename.
  4. Reconsider your slogan.
  5. Rebuild your brand identity.
  6. Listen to feedback.
  7. Plan a successful launch. Want to learn more for free, click here.


Then, click here to begin your branding journey with me and my team by downloading this fantastic free ebook and 90minute training & getting a 7-day FREE trial to the Brand You To Success Academy.


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Branding & Business Jor'El Mitchell

Global Business & Branding Strategist

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