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Johnny Depp And Amber Heard: A Defamation Lawsuit Or PR Gimmick?


Bonjour! Welcome back.

In our last blog we discussed the role and need of Litigation PR. In this blog we will go into how Johnny Depp spun the win using digital media.

Depp had a significant advantage when the trial began – him being one of the most well-known and financially successful Hollywood stars of the past 40 years. Due to this, Depp had two benefits: money to engage the best legal teams and litigation PR experts, as well as hordes of fans.

There was an army of people pumped up in support of Depp no matter what, with millions of admirers on every continent, including organised fan clubs to manage audience and social media groups to drip feed trial news. His PR agency only needed to reach out to the gatekeepers of those social groups with classic PR tactics. And they did!

This is such a basic strategy that I myself as a PR professional utilise all the time.

The result was a deluge of social media posts supporting Depp and critising Heard and a carnival-like atmosphere outside the courthouse.

Meanwhile, Heard’s team failed to rally support for her cause from groups with similar interests, such as organisations that advocate for victims of domestic violence, making her appear isolated.

From the start, it was clear that the overwhelming substance of online traffic supported Johnny Depp. However, it was the publicity surrounding this trial – the scandal, the spectacle of a celebrity relationship breaking down – that may have had the most impact, resulting in the viral reach.

Though once all has been said and done the question still remains – was it really a high-profile countersuit gone wrong for Heard or a full-blown PR stunt played out on a mass scale by both parties?

For now, I will leave it for you to decide!