The “Wagatha Christie” trial saw the profiles of Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney rocket, with both able to capitalise going forward – although in very different ways and for markedly different reasons, reputation experts have claimed.
Vardy’s spectacular own goal in suing Rooney may have seen her openly mocked, her reputation trashed and facing a potential £3m legal bill – but she will never be in more demand and could bounce back against the odds, they said.
Reality TV shows will be knocking at her door, said Jonathan Hartley, a media consultant specialising in crisis management. “I’m a Celebrity … Get me out of here! would absolutely bite their hands off for her, just for the fact her profile has never been higher. There will be lots of offers, more than she has ever had before. The controversy has just made her more interesting,” he said.
Rooney, meanwhile, who is making a documentary about the case, can expect offers from many brands keen to associate with the “vilified girl next door” persona she has acquired.
“We live on pantomime. Reality TV and social media daily give us pantomime characters. So, here we have the ‘wicked witch’ and the ‘good fairy’. I think pantomime king Michael Harrison will be on the phone today,” said PR expert Mark Borkowski.
Hartley said the verdict may seem a disaster for a “devastated” Vardy, but “nearly always people can come back from having had their reputation really badly trashed”.
He added: “Coleen had won before the verdict in terms of PR. Everybody seemed to be on her side. The fact most people thought Rebekah Vardy was in the dock showed how badly it had gone for her. The snippets that came out in the trial were more damaging for Rebekah rather than Coleen.
“But the British public is brilliant at forgiving. She [Vardy] has to create a long-term strategy. She has to do some mea culpa. She has to show some understanding of where it went wrong and why people were upset.”
A sympathetic TV interview could be a start. “Piers Morgan would want her” but whether the gladiatorial arena was the best vehicle for Vardy at this stage was debatable, he added. Charity work was another option. But she should not rush into anything.
Rooney, on the other hand, would be able to take advantage of the many offers bound to come her way. “If I was Coleen, I would absolutely use the profile and the good will she has got and take advantage of all the offers,” said Hartley.
“In a strange way Coleen, PR-wise, is better off moving away from this story. Not because she has done anything wrong. But because she’s got the high moral ground and she doesn’t want to be seen to be exploiting that, and kicking Rebekah while she is down.”
The Wag-type brands are, however, likely to steer clear of Vardy for a while. “The type of deals with the type of retailers that might go to a Wag are going to evaporate,” said Borkowski.
“It’s massive for Coleen, and she’s got the people around her to market it. She remains the vilified girl next door. She came across as very strong, walking into court with that big boot on, [Wayne] behind her holding her handbag.
“She’s back in play now. I think people will look at her and think: ‘She’s someone we want.’ And she will be in demand, but for totally different reasons to Vardy.”
“It’s a disaster for Vardy,” he added. “She could go with the antics. I always remember Christine and Neil Hamilton would turn up at every chatshow with a brown paper bag, and they seemed to recover because they played into the comedy of the situation,” he said of the former MP’s downfall following the “cash for questions” scandal.
“She [Vardy] can disappear without trace, or do private charitable things quietly in the background, a kind of John Profumo of the footballers’ wives world. She will be in demand, though. You name it – tabloid TV, reality TV. But, from the way she launched this action, I don’t think it will be a comfortable place for her to be in.