Public opinion on the news of Schooling’s drug use is mixed, but Voedisch noted that some online comments were neutral or even moderately positive.

“The public saw him come out and admit it, so it wasn’t like he was officially exposed.” They saw him take the first step. It has the potential to create a new story of a phoenix that revives from within.”

Communications expert Steve Cupaiolo said an apology and a confession are good first steps, but the next step is to explain why Schooling did it.

“Athletes are often held to higher standards than the rest of us and are often seen as national icons,” said Cupaiolo, chief executive of marketing agency Silk Road Sports Consulting. Therefore, we must be accountable to the public.

“It took a lot of courage for Joseph Schooling to admit it, because it’s not easy to say you’ve made a mistake, especially when it’s public.

“But he needs to be as transparent as possible and explain why he did it, to avoid a big crisis,” added Cupiaolo.

What next for his sponsorship?

Several brands, such as Hugo Boss, Nestle and Yakult, have helped school since it rose to fame after winning the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics.

But the news of him confessing to drug use has sparked debate about whether the brand should distance itself from the athlete.

DBS Bank told CNA that its partnership with Schooling ended before he enlisted in the NS last January.

In response to questions from CNA, Hugo Boss said the partnership and support for Schooling remains “strong and unwavering”.

“Joseph made mistakes, but the important thing is that he made it his own,” said Stephen Lam, the fashion house’s managing director of Southeast Asia.

“Over the years, he has been a constant positive influence in and out of the pool. He has inspired many children to believe in themselves, work hard and follow their dreams. ”

Lam added: “We have taught future generations that it is okay to make mistakes, but they must be held accountable and, more importantly, correct them. need to do it.

“It will be a long road for Joseph, but I believe he will now show us how to deliver on his promise to rebuild trust with those who believe in him.”

CNA also reaches out to other brands related to schooling.

A communications expert spoken to by CNA said the fate of his current sponsorship deal would depend on individual brands and their value.

In some cases, brands may decide to terminate contracts out of concern that their reputation with athletes and celebrities could affect the company’s image, said a manager at PR firm Precious Communications. Sing Director Voedisch said.

“Companies need to decide what alignment they want, such as certain values ​​and access to their target audience of athletes and celebrities,” he said.

“For example, a company that primarily focuses on young children may be more sensitive to incidents like the one that happened with Joseph Schooling than a beer company.”

However, canceling a contract to protect a company’s image can backfire.

“Companies that drop their partners at the first sign of lightning may be seen as unsustainable, not taking themselves seriously, or even hypocrites.

Experts stressed that for some brands, the ongoing narrative could even make schooling more attractive as a partner.

“Now he’s the iron that new brands don’t want to touch,” Voedisch said. “But for the brands he’s working with now, he’s become more human, so what really happened might make him more valuable.

“Most heroes get closer to our hearts when we see them make mistakes. They’re not unruly supergods. They have flaws like you and me.” .”

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