Public opinion is harsh when the superrich fail. Who could forget the horror of the news story in London this past summer when 48 year old billionaire, heiress Eva Rausing, one of the richest women in Britain, was found dead from an apparent drug overdose in her $90M home. Her body remained undiscovered for three weeks, while her husband, four children and staff went about their business as usual. How could a decomposing body go unnoticed? Eva Rausing’s husband, Hans Kristian was arrested, not for murder, but for running a drug den. Enough illicit drugs were stored in the house to keep a small village stoned indefinitely. At the time of her death, Eva Rausing was not without social influence. She was a trustee of one Prince Charles’ favorite charity, The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, and a co-patron with Kate Middleton of the drug charity Action on Addiction, to which she had given hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A post on a news blog surrounding Eva Rausing’s death very nicely summarizes how the weight of public opinion always tilts heavily against the superrich. The post reads: Imagine being that rich and still such a loser!
Earlier this year, George Soros warned of “'Riots,' 'Brutal' Clampdowns & Possible Total Economic Collapse.” Soros understands how to position his brand in the current economic meltdown, which is why, more often than not; he defines himself as a philanthropist and not only a billionaire financier. It is also why his son’s antics were nipped in the bud and a press campaign ensued to show the boy’s new humanitarian track. Keep in mind, when the rich make a public mess, they can remedy the situation by starting a foundation. Aside from the potential PR benefit, foundations come with excellent tax breaks. Throughout history, the public has reacted harshly to the wealthier classes who were perceived as haughty, oppressive and greedy. Due to the rising socio-economic pressures of our times, those who have great wealth need to exert both awareness and sensitivity when dealing with the public, and especially when they are building their brand image.