Amber Heard has recently been photographed vacationing in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, despite saying she does not have enough money pay Johnny Depp the millions she owed him. Publicists who spoke with Newsweek said such high-end trips might not be the best idea for people in Heard’s situation.
Kelly Brady, CEO and founder of Brandsway Creative, said she couldn’t comment directly on Heard but offered her general thoughts.
“Anything you do that is covered in the media is like being judged in a global public court,” Brady told Newsweek. “If you are going through money problems publicly, and then you are photographed living it up on a lux vacation, you’re just opening the flood gates to be ridiculed, to be doubted, and called a liar, even if you are not paying for this trip.”
In June, a jury in the couple’s defamation trial that detailed abuse allegations from both sides ruled Heard must pay Depp $10 million in compensatory damages plus $350,000 in punitive damages. However, Depp was ordered to pay the Aquaman actress $2 million for her counter-lawsuit. The state of Virginia, where the high-profile trial was held, also has a cap on damages, which left Heard on the hook for $5 million.
Heard’s former attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, appeared on the Today show following the verdict. She told anchor Savannah Guthrie her client would “absolutely not” be able to pay Depp the amount she owed him.
As a result, some people in the media have indicated that Heard going on a trip to the Mediterranean coast may send the wrong idea about the state of her finances, even if someone else is picking up the bill. The actress suffered similar criticism from the tabloid press and social media users when she was photographed in the Hamptons and in Israel following the trial.
“Sometimes celebrities are disconnected from the reality that the rest of the world faces,” Jared Shapiro, founder of public relations firm The Tag Experience, told Newsweek. “If you actually care what people think about you—and some celebrities don’t—you’ll be mindful of your actions.”
Shapiro, who is also the former editorial director of gossip tabloids Life & Style and In Touch Weeklyadded that during Heard’s trial “the general consensus was, from a PR standpoint, Johnny Depp played it better.”
He said that after the trial, publications are writing about “Amber Heard traveling the world, and she can’t pay her bills. And Johnny Depp has found love with his lawyer. Even now, after the lawsuit—at least from a PR standpoint —he’s playing it better.”
“Public relations is always an uphill battle when you’ve got something to try and convince people of,” Shapiro said. “It does take effort and a team. It’s also very easy, if you want to pull it off, to hide.”
Which is also what Brady would advise her clients in a similar scenario.
“As a publicist, it is our job to help shape public opinion. So yes, I would advise clients going through money issues to lay low and not to do anything flashy, be it shopping or taking a luxury holiday,” Brady said.
She continued, “What you do in the public eye needs to support the narrative you are trying to sell, not the narrative the ‘haters’ are trying to create.”
Newsweek reached out to Heard for comment.