When Red Banyan CEO Evan Nierman appeared on national TV to discuss the fallout from the Will Smith smack seen around the world, the seasoned PR pro had no idea he was setting himself up for a bit of a smackdown himself.

As cameras rolled live, a smudgy brown ‘stache sat atop Nierman’s normally clean-shaven upper lip, while a scruffy soul patch materialized in the middle of his chin.

Oblivious that a goofy Zoom filter was on, the strait-laced Nierman cluelessly dished up stern advice for Smith with a straight face. Meanwhile, the entire universe of viewers saw the normally spit-polished crisis manager’s look go from mild to wild.

“It was a humiliating error and I have no idea how it happened,” Nierman said in an interview after the incident. “Moreover, before we went live I asked the producer how the shot looked and was told it looked ‘great.’  Apparently, I appeared to her so youthful that she thought nothing of the hipster vibe that I was throwing off.”

And unlike the lawyer who famously told a Texas judge, “I am not a cat,” when he appeared virtually in court with a feline filter activated, Nierman never got a chance to tell viewers, “I am not a beatnik.”

Nierman, who swears the incident was not an image-altering attempt to look edgy, is now faced with a crisis management issue of his own.

Were these hijinks planned to make a splash on national TV and drive up the interest in Red Banyan’s brand? Was this really an innocent mistake that could happen to anyone, or a pathetic ploy to capitalize on worldwide interest in the Will Smith Oscars slap?

Does this nationally recognized crisis manager need to do something now to regain his dignity? Or is this entire topic a tempest in a teapot and he should just let go?

Questions abound, but one thing we already know for sure: a few days before April Fool’s Day, this veteran crisis communicator played the part of a fool.

Looking for crisis management experts with decades of experience in media relations, reputation repair and social media (who promise to make sure YOUR silly Zoom filters are not activated when you give interviews?) Contact Red Banyan at redbanyan.com.