James Hird Personal Brand Battered

James Hird Essendon Football Club AFL Tania Hird Supplements Scandal

Humility is a lost art form

In case you missed it. Essendon Football Club embroiled in a supplements scandal through out AFL football season 2013. Coach James Hird, who presided over the sorry affair, gets suspended for 12 months.

James HIrd Tania Hird Essendon Football Club AFL Personal Brand

It was on his watch that his players were subjected to an injection regime like no other. A program that Hird was apparently unable to advise during an extensive enquiry exactly what supplements or drugs were administered to his players. At no time to my knowledge (I could be wrong) has Hird publicly aplogised for failing his players, his club or the AFL code.

At every turn he has conveyed a belief that he has been hard done by. He is a scapegoat. Forced to endure a 12-month sabbatical in France studying at a leading business school, on full salary. Yes, some scapegoat penalties are better than others.

Just when we thought the dust had settled and James Hird had jetted off to Europe to begin his so-called punishment, up jumps wife Tania Hird on the 7.30 Report to give the AFL another spray. She claimed the AFL had not been interested in integrity but in saving its brand. It was a performance that took no prisoners.

James Hird AFL Tania Hird Essendon Football Club

Sadly, she also mortally wounded her husband in the process. If James Hird survives this further example of his interests being put ahead of every thing else in this world, then I am a poor judge of the residual equity in the Hird personal brand. He has to go. As a personal brand Hird should be declaring remorse and humility for dropping the proverbial ball last year. Instead he simply refuses to accept responsibility for the stumble.

It is interesting that in the 7.30 Report Tania Hird spoke of the AFL being solely concerned about saving its brand. It is precisely what the Hird camp has been attempting to do with the James Hird brand. Unfortunately, it has been way off the mark in how best to achieve that goal. From a brand perspective if James Hird could not muster an apology and some humility for what has transpired, he and his camp should have at least remained quiet, and got on with their French lessons.

It is now in the hands of the Essendon Football Club to determine Hird’s future. Unfortunately, there is a two-year contract extension and a couple of million dollars hanging in the balance. For the club it is now a question of save some dollars, or save some respect.

Peter Singline
Brand Scientist & Founder 

 Images courtesy of Will Russell/AFL, The Age, ABC


  1. Interestingly, the board has decided to honour his contract for 2015/2016. Not sure what the MBA is going to add to his coaching abilities.

    I’m keen to see how the club reacts if Essendon have a really good run this year and end up deep into the finals. The question will then become ‘who is the better coach’? If they end up going back to Hird and the team suffers for it, there’s going to be hell to pay at a board level.

    More importantly, football season is away so it’s time everyone shuts up so they can hear Brian Taylor go through his weekly stroke inducing commentary ritual of “big boy, WOW WEE!”

  2. Considering it’s easier to earn money than win back respect, I suggest the club go for ‘saving some respect’.

    “Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past.” – Tryon Edwards

  3. Peter Singline

    Danielle thanks for the Tryon Edwards quote, it says a lot about what is required to turn a negative perception around. From a brand perspective, we always advocate that the brand’s deeds, not its communications, will ultimately determine its level brand equity. It would appear based on the board’s response yesterday that James Hird may well be granted another opportunity to win back the respect that he has eroded over the past 12 months. It will be interesting to observe the process.

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