Dolce and Gabbana’s Instagram advertisement, where a Chinese model is eating Pizza with a chopstick, has tarnished the brand’s reputation and will inevitably affect its sales in the coming months. Dolce and Gabbana is now left red-faced with no end to the PR disaster in sight. Boycotts by many Chinese are in full swing together with few of their brand ambassadors abandoning them as well.
The vast brand visibility from their advertisement has caused the brand severe damage.
However, in the current times of social media and viral content, the worst strategy is to wait too long or do too little. Below are some suggestions for Dolce and Gabbana to handle the PR debacle.
Reply to Millions
Although Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce have come forward with a video apology, the damage quite frankly has been done. With over millions of posts, comments and living room discussions – it is now more than imperative for the brand to reply to each one of them. Individually. Yes! It will certainly take lots of resources, but in this age of ‘personalisation’, similar rules apply in times of a PR crisis.
More than a Sincere Apology
History is not kind to D&G either. In 2012 Dolce and Gabbana banned Hongkongers from taking photographs outside its Tsim Sha Tsui flagship store. It followed a string of protests and much avoidable PR disaster.
This time around the situation quickly turned from bad to worse through the advert going viral on social media. Not to mention the after-reaction of Gabbana insulting China by calling it ‘the country of s***’. People have now started to recognise this as a habit and mark its leadership as habitual offenders. Perhaps boycott the brand and make an example of it.
Therefore, it is essential for the brand to take ownership and convey what the brand stands for and defining its core values.
Cultural Sensitivity Training
If you compare diverse cultures, you will find similarities as well as differences where most brands tend to get stuck in the nuances and subtle perceptions of the natives. When it comes to a branding activity, naming of a product or in this case an advertisement – a story can quickly turn on its head.
Now, the time is perhaps to go above and beyond by taking responsibility and setting training and workshops for cultural sensitivity moreover, if they are already – then to identify more areas of improvement and share them publicly. Nowadays, the more transparent a brand – the more connected it is to its audience.
Redefine Company Culture
The employees at the forefront of this PR disaster are inevitably the ones to be targeted the most (and most easily I might add!). However, the overall company culture has to be identified and examined for racist overtones in which the employees are raised. Creating a better brand starts from within where the employees are its first customers.
Work with Brand Ambassadors
Releasing apology statements and policy renewals can be a step but certainly not enough. D&G should actively reach out to their brand ambassadors, KOLs and micro-influencers and listen. Active participation with the community will help bring the brand out as more human and genuine. The key is to act with sincere agility and be patient in reaching out to its diverse and multilingual community.
Both Gabbana and Dolce must do more to turn things around.