Harry Kane's response to trolls has raised his brand and his reputation

Last week Tottenham Hotspur reached the final of the Champions League for the first time in their history.

Harry Kane's moral leadership has raised his brand and his reputation authentically, argues Jonny Garfield
Harry Kane's moral leadership has raised his brand and his reputation authentically, argues Jonny Garfield

This was a seismic moment for the club, but away from the pitch, Tottenham and their talismanic striker grabbed my attention following an act of kindness towards fans Neil Markham and his daughter Ellie.

Ellie has Down’s syndrome and was trolled online after Neil posted a video on Twitter of her joyously dancing at Tottenham’s stadium.

Kane responded by inviting Ellie to be a mascot for Tottenham’s final game of the Premier League season, which took place against Everton on Sunday.

Huddersfield Town is another club that recently hit the headlines for doing good.

A seven-year-old girl called Bella from Dallas, Texas, was invited to a recent match by shaven-headed midfielder Aaron Mooy after he inspired her during cancer treatment.

Bella’s story also came to prominence through social media and she was also invited to be a mascot. Instagram did the magic this time.

As we know, social media enables people to deliver messages to wide audiences.

Elite sportspeople, through their significant online following, possess an invaluable ability to educate people about correct and incorrect behaviour. Kane’s gesture was a clear sign to the trolls who tormented Ellie and her family – I am not with you.

I wouldn’t suggest for a moment that Kane’s invitation to Ellie was a ‘PR stunt’ concocted in a brainstorming session at Tottenham’s PR HQ.

Nevertheless, with the club unveiling its state-of-the-art stadium, coupled with success in Europe, the hierarchy will no doubt look to achieve long-term commercial success.

Showing moral leadership is key to the club’s development.

For Kane, who rose to acclaim as England’s Golden Boot-winning captain during last summer’s World Cup, the value of his personal brand is closely linked to his good reputation.

In 2017, Kane trademarked his name in the form of logo: ‘HK10’.

This enables him to exclusively brand particular goods and services, including clothing, with this logo.

Kane’s gesture to Ellie was unlikely to be a tactic to increase the sales of his merchandise, but it unquestionably paints him in a positive light and broadens his appeal.

It is refreshing to see a high-profile club take a stand against online abuse, especially at a time when football is receiving negative media attention because of links with significant societal problems such as racism, homophobia and religious hatred.

Only last month two Premier League football clubs had to respond to videos of its fans singing Islamophobic and anti-Semitic songs before matches, both at home and abroad.

It appears that prejudice in football has mutated from an overt form that former players such as Laurie Cunningham and John Barnes experienced via the terraces in the 1970s and 1980s, into a new guise through social media.

This means that thanks to their following, clubs and players can play a key role in portraying that enough is enough.

If this happens to result in positive PR for all involved, then all the better!

Jonny Garfield is an account manager at The PR Office 

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