Oversharing has become the hallmark of the social media generation because, as we all know, content is king. Any and every experience you have is now an opportunity to build your brand story, telling your audience a bit more about who you are. And with free-to-use social media platforms being the great-leveller, we’re all now storytellers in charge of building, shaping and distributing whatever narrative we want.
But what happens when that agency is seemingly taken away?
This year, we’ve been working with former footballer Jason Lee, who David Baddiel racially bullied on primetime TV at the height of his career. Even though Jason had a long tenure on the pitch before moving into player support and EDI, the spectre of Baddiel’s blackface sketches always loomed in the background. People continued to invoke Jason’s name online. Some demanded an apology from David Baddiel on Jason’s behalf, while others continued referencing pineapples in a call back to Baddiel’s infamous pineapple placement that was intended to mock Jason’s then-dreadlocked hairstyle.
Jason had never publicly spoken about the issue at length but, when asked, simply reminded people that Baddiel and Skinner had yet to apologise to him directly. When he came to us for support defining his personal brand, we knew we needed to facilitate a conversation with David Baddiel so Jason could get the personal and professional resolution he needed.
Jason’s warm and insightful persona meant a podcast was a natural place to start and a great vehicle for him to have candid conversations about the issues that matter. When the opportunity to appear on Baddiel’s documentary, Jews Don’t Count, presented itself, plans were already underway for the AbsoluteLee podcast. Following much consideration, he decided to appear in the film in exchange for Baddiel’s participation in a longer conversation where Jason would have the space to share how Baddiel’s abuse impacted him, his family and the wider community.
In preparation for the severely overdue discussion, we worked with Jason and our professional mediator consultant, allowing him to explore the approach he wanted to take towards the challenging topic in a way that minimised harm. The conversation that followed was poignant, with Jason receiving the apology he had been denied for so long while also communicating how deeply Baddiel’s behaviour had affected a whole community. This launch podcast episode was a powerful piece of content that demonstrated how to take back ownership of your own story in style.
Jason was able to take a painful event from his past and turn it into an inspiring teachable moment and a masterclass in facilitating accountability. In a time when so much discourse is polarised, Jason rewrote the narrative and moved the conversation beyond a showdown into a nuanced discussion about racism and allyship.
The opportunity to share his experience, in his own words, put Jason back in control of his story. But, more importantly, it allowed him to determine what happens next. For us, he’s the perfect example of using what you have to create the change you want to make.