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Although RIM promptly fired two executives whose drunken antics grounded a Beijing-bound flight in Vancouver, experts are wondering what damage the stunt did to an already beleaguered brand.

After its massive e-mail outage in October, "RIM can ill afford to have its brand image further tarnished by anything, let alone things that are pretty much out of its direct control," technology analyst Carmi Levy told The Canadian Press.

"You're buying a piece of the company, you're buying the spirit of that company," Mr. Levy continued.

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The men, who had to be handcuffed to their seats by cabin crew, pleaded guilty to mischief and were ordered to pay nearly $72,000 in restitution.

"RIM expects that its employees conduct themselves in a manner reflective of our strong principles and standards of business behaviour," the Waterloo, Ont., company said in a statement.

In the case of celebrity spokespeople, ugly behaviour hasn't always been so cut and dry.

Dior sales are up 27 per cent after John Galliano's booze-fuelled anti-Semitic meltdown earlier this year. Vogue's guess is fashionistas are scrambling to get a piece of his last collection for Dior, which has nonetheless decisively severed ties with the designer.

Kate Moss, who incidentally wore Galliano to her wedding this summer, had lucrative campaigns with Burberry and H&M yanked after she was secretly filmed snorting cocaine at her boyfriend's rehearsal six years ago.

Apparently water under the bridge as the model's fortunes soared just a year later, with nearly 20 new contracts and an exclusive Topshop line.

And while most of Tiger Wood's sponsorships evaporated after his spectacular sex scandal and tournament lag, Rolex offered the disgraced golfer a deal in October, long after the bar stars had come forward.

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While some have speculated that Rolex is "buying low," Slate suggests the company is angling Mr. Wood's Thai roots to capture the golf-crazed Asian market.

"As for Tiger's moral missteps? It's a good bet those will be forgotten by the next time he hoists a championship trophy. With a Rolex on his wrist," writes Slate's Seth Stevenson.

Does the RIM employees' costly drunken row affect how you see BlackBerry? Or can a certain type of notoriety work strange magic for a company?

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