Nicole Arbour and Her PR Nightmare
Last week, Canadian comedian, musician and dancer Nicole Arbour posted a Youtube video titled “Dear Fat People.” The comedian posts many “rant” videos, where she takes a current issue and voices her (typically offensive) opinion. She started gaining popularity when her “Dear Instagram Models” video went viral on Facebook with people praising the harsh truth she spoke. But “Dear Fat People” went viral for another reason, a very negative one.
When a comedian pokes fun at someone who CHOOSES to do the belittling behavior, like posting racy photos on the Internet, people can laugh. But when a comedian chooses to poke fun at someone who has health issues out of their control, people will get mad.
And they did.
Shortly after Arbour’s video went viral, the internet erupted with responses. Through Facebook posts, tweets and response Youtube videos, skinny and fat people alike shared their disgust for the “fat-shaming” that Arbour supposedly promoted in her video. “My Big Fat Fabulous Life” star Whitney Way Thore even created a response video, telling Arbour that someone can be obese for reasons out of their control, not because they are just lazy. Youtube suspended Arbour’s account during the online outrage, but recently reinstated it.
And how did Arbour respond? What listening and engagement tactics did Arbour use to respond to the public?
Well, for starters, she disabled the comments to her video. Then she took to Twitter, proclaiming to be the first comedian “censored” on Youtube. She is not retracting any statements, and retweeting anyone who supports her. She has also used her new “fame” online to promote her recent album release.
The Internet is not letting her off that easily.
Could Arbour handle the situation differently? Well, she could have apologized. She could have deleted the video and replaced it with something more inspiring, actual exercise and healthy eating tips possibly. But would that have been better? Arbour’s target audience does not contain the faint of heart. She is promoting her comedy and music to people who like to push boundaries and break the rules. Her response to this controversy is making her more desirable to the people who enjoyed her offensive video, because she is not giving in to the “haters,” even if they are right. By responding to those who support her, she is building a strong, maybe small, but strong nonetheless, band of followers.
Overall, Arbour had to choose if she wanted to apologize for video or stand by it. She chose to stand by her offensive video, and once the storm calms, she may reap in the subscribers because of it.