As sports scandals go, 2015's Deflategate was pretty great—it had a handsome leading man and readymade jokes about saggy balls—but in retrospect it lacked a certain something. Do you remember the particular brand of footballs Tom Brady and friends wanted underinflated? Yeah, neither do I.
Enter Apple Watchgate. As The New York Times reported late Tuesday afternoon in a scoop titled "Boston Red Sox Used Apple Watches to Steal Signs Against Yankees"—well, honestly, do you need much more to go on than that headline? The obvious joke practically writes itself, though let's give credit where credit is due: ESPN The Magazine writer Mina Kimes appears to among the first, and so far the most successful, to bring the joke to market, with a tweet that's been hearted almost 10,000 times as of this writing:
the real story here is someone found a use for the apple watch https://t.co/ETcLWj79Vr— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) September 5, 2017
She had a pretty good, if not as popular, follow-up too:
also I wish this was the NFL cause you know Goodell would try to depose Siri— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) September 5, 2017
Really, this is the best branded scandal since Louise Linton, wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, used Instagram to flaunt her #rolandmouret, #hermesscarf, #tomford and #valentino wardrobe on a trip to Kentucky.
If the Apple Watchgate joke du jour wasn't at Apple's expense, you might be tempted to ascribe this moment to guerrilla marketing. After all, it's pretty conveeeeenient that Apple is right in the middle of yet another breathless hype cycle leading up its next big stage show, at which a new Apple Watch may be launched along with the iPhone 8.
At any rate, you've gotta figure that somewhere someone is thinking, We can leverage this—and somewhere else someone (e.g., me) is thinking, I can see where this is going.
Maybe it'll turn out that a Fitbit is right now tracking some particularly vigorous extramarital celebrity sex, or, I dunno, that Donald Trump Jr. somehow tried to use a Juicero to collude with the Russians. Whatever. Bottom line: In the future, all celebrity scandals will be branded.
Simon Dumenco, aka Media Guy, is an Ad Age editor-at-large. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.