Photo: Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana– Dolce & Gabana’s website.
When I look at the backlash of the latest campaign in China by luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana (DG) – with the brand pulled from key retail websites, cancelling hopes for a revenue boost in a country that represents 30% of purchases of luxury goods worldwide – 3 things come to my mind:
- Using the same strategy doesn’t yield the same result
The speed and scale with which news can spread through social media, and the ability of the audience to respond instantaneously to content, makes every experience unique. This ability to actively react on social media is a game changer. This interaction could go both ways: amplify the initial effort or turn it into a disaster faster than we can think through an active campaign (#BoycottDolce). And I believe this is why using the same strategy twice could yield different results.
DG is no stranger to provocation. So far, it had managed to avoid fatal setbacks. However, this time around could have been one too many times.
This means that when using the same strategy, a brand might still be better off reviewing it carefully in the new context.
This could have been avoided by thinking through the strategy in a culturally different market, which brings me to the second lesson.
- Cultural Differences Matter
DG’s ad was addressing Chinese consumers with an approach perceived as filled with racist stereotypes.
Research about the culture may have allowed the fashion company to anticipate that their provocative approach would not sit well with the Chinese public.
- Authenticity Brings Value
An alleged Instagram exchange between Gabbana and Diet Prada, filled with new racist comments, took the uproar to another level.
Screen shot from Diet Prada’s Instagram account
Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce said on Instagram that their account had been hacked, which was not the type of response desired by the public. The blame made the following comment sound like it was unauthentic: “We have nothing but respect for China and the people of China.”
Screen shot from DG’s Instagram Account
The anger led to the cancellation of DG fashion show that was scheduled in Shangai. The brand was withdrawn from key Internet sites, and a video apology from DG did not appease the anger.
Perhaps taking responsibility for their actions and coming up with a sincere apology demonstrating accountability would have allowed customers to feel they were taken seriously and valued.
There are no doubt more lessons from this failed campaign, which makes a good candidate for textbooks about social media marketing.
Which lessons do you draw from this backlash?
Does this episode mark a turning point that could lead marketers to review their approach to social media marketing and how far they can go to put their brand on the radar?
Did you follow Dolce & Gabbana’s latest provocation about Chinese culture and its backlash? Here are 3 lessons to draw from DG’s failed campaign: http://bit.ly/2FDQdOa
#DolceGabbana provokes again. This time it backfires with #BoycottDolce. Here are 3 lessons: http://bit.ly/2FDQdOa