Personal Brand Identity Spillover: The Dominique Strauss-Kahn Case

Product-harm crisis and its associated brand spillover effects is a “relevant and spicy topic” in marketing that I am currently investigating in more depth along with colleague Bob Mackalski (more to come concerning this issue on this blog). Similarly, in the last few days, I must admit that the Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) sexual scandal is great food for thoughts (for more details about the May 15th 2011 sexual scandal that happened in New York) concerning these issues but at the employee or connection-level, rather than at the product-level. However, by considering Dominique Strauss-Kahn as a brand, the analogy for analysis is nearly the same. Before writing anything on the topic, one should first decorticate Dominique Strauss-Kahn identity or if you prefer the ecosystem evolving around him. Thus, my objective here is not to give implementable solutions, but simply to expose you which entities can be affected in a public figure failing/scandal. All the information used here is easily available on the web or in newspapers and is reported in an objective fashion. Thus, let’s classify Dominique Strauss-Kahn identity in 6 categories:

1. Origins and ethnicity
2. Institutions
3. Professions
4. Ideology
5. Business Connections
6. Family and friends

Dominique Stauss-Kahn (DSK) - Before the May 15th 2011 Sexual Scandal in New York City
Dominique Stauss-Kahn (DSK) - Before the May 15th 2011 Sexual Scandal in New York City

Category 1 – Origins and Ethnicity
1. France
2. French nationality
3. Of Jewish ethnicity

Category 2 – Institutions
1. Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
2. Member of the Socialist Party of France (PS), he was also France Minister for Economics, Finance and Industry from 1997 to 1999. He was expecting to run for France presidency.
3. Full Professor of Macroeconomics and Microeconomics at Sciences-Po
4. Attended High school at the Lycée Carnot
5. Graduated from HEC Paris
6. Graduated from Sciences-Po
7. Graduated from Université Paris X (Nanterre)

Category 3 – Professions
1. Politician
2. Economist

Category 4 – Ideology
1. Considered as a communist in his early life
2. Center-left point of view

Category 5 – Business connections
1. I won’t put names here, simply search them on the web if you want.

Category 6 – Friends and family
1. Parents
2. Married to Anne Sinclair
3. Two other wives from previous weddings
4. Four daughters
5. Other family members
6. All friends

A Quick Analysis

At the end of the day, a quick analysis brings the conclusion that the biggest losers here are:

1. All friends and family
2. Socialist Party of France (PS)
3. All French politicians
4. The French, the people from France
5. IMF
6. Science Po

Next Steps

For sure, for the ecosystem associated closely to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, what needs to be done is to work days and nights to recover, recover and recover as fast as possible. From a purely analytic perspective, the next step would be to measure the short-term and long-term impact of this scandal, qualitatively and quantitatively, and to act accordingly to change perceptions.


At the end of the day, the biggest loser in this scandal is DSK himself, but the harm may be irreversible for some people evolving around him (especially family and friends). Don’t forget that what can strengthen you, can also destroy you!

Enjoy the day (even if it’s raining here), not the scandal,

Jean-Francois Belisle

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5 thoughts on “Personal Brand Identity Spillover: The Dominique Strauss-Kahn Case”

  1. Nice article on the more « personal » side of DSK which could influence the outcome of this story! However, in my opinion you have forgotten in the “loosers”: the French, the people from France!!! For many reasons:

    • The image of France in the United States
    • The image of the French men even the French women that are not taking the victims’ side
    • The image of politicians as perceived by the French, which was already declining in terms of: social capital, engagement and participation rate at the polls.
    • The emergence of a real leader for the PS that will take time, to a point that it might not emerge before 2012 and the same time, the potential risk that no real debate will happen for the presidency run, what the French were waiting for with a trio that would have been composed of DSK – Sarkozy – Le Pen.
    • And the worst for the end: The economic lost since everybody is on the Internet right now, to follow the development of this story while at work!!!


  2. You forgot to quote Spider Man : “With great power comes great responsibility.” 😉

  3. @Sarah, You”re right, I should have added the French there, it’s now done. Also, at the end of the day, I didn’t really want to enter the France vs. USA debate, since this story is a true France vs USA and Right-wing vs. Left-wing story.

    @Vicki, amazing quote, I should have closed my post that way, especially that on some pictures, I do look like Tobey Maguire.

  4. This scandal could serve as a lever for the French to differentiate from Americans. The sexual side of this case could twist the outcome in many different directions, even to a point of presenting DSK as a victim.
    The game has just started.

  5. Thanks Christian for your comment. I must admit, yesterday, I was a little surprised by the reaction of “some” French in the news which supports your “DSK as a victim hypothesis”.

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