Even though Dolce & Gabbana wish it would go away, the social network activity surrounding the total mess the Tsim Sha Tsui store became viral. The problem didn’t begin online, but the use of social networks to alert everyone to the problem and D&G’s total failure to respond is why they make the Fail Kitty list of naughty, naughty companies.
As the story goes, about 2 weeks ago some locals were taking pictures outside of the D&G flagship store at Tsim Sha Tsui. One of D&G’s security force approached the photographer, who was a local, and informed him that only mainland Chinese and foreign tourists were allowed to take photos outside of the store. You can see where this is going, right?
Within about 3 hours, the story spread by text and calls and tweets until a Facebook page popped up calling for the boycott of the store. Initially, a couple thousand likes of the page came in – then it grew really fast. It spread to blogs, it was tweeted, it hit mainstream news in Hong Kong and then spread around the world in 72 hours. As of now, the Facebook page has over 24,000 likes and is still growing.
Through social networks, a protest was arranged for the storefront that drew somewhere around 1,000 people. D&G got flat out torched everywhere – not just in Hong Kong and not just on Facebook. In a feeble attempt to do some form of damage control, D&G released the following statement, printed in Forbes:
“A well-known mainlander, possibly a government official, was reportedly shopping in the store last month when he noticed people outside taking photographs. A complaint was made to D&G because the customer feared netizens would link the shopping spree to corruption. Then D&G instigated the ban. D&G’s statement strongly denied making any racist or derogatory comments. Controversial statements reported in the Hong Kong press have not been made by Dolce & Gabbana nor its staff.”
That was really about all they did. No apology. No offer to make things right. Just a denial – and placing the blame on “netizens” in a nice roundabout way. That sparked wave 2 which just got more people mad and caused D&G to basically have to pull a temporary shutdown of many of their social sites and pages because they not only waited too long to process the flames they got, they couldn’t keep up.
They could have controlled the problem if they reacted online early and addressed the issue. They didn’t. They could have saved tons of time and money sanitizing the comments that appeared un-moderated and live if they had actual mods – but that didn’t happen. Instead, they allowed a terrible localized problem to spread world wide.
All together now – – – FAIL! (Don’t you love the look of disgust on Zoe’s kitty face?)
Update – According to NY Fashion, a Hong Kong store has poked a little fun at Dolce’s expense – see the inside joke here!
Here’s an example of how a lone franchise employee can create a PR nightmare.
On Friday, January 6, 2012, around 8:00 in the evening, New Yorker Minhee Cho, age 24, walked into her local Papa John’s and ordered a small pepperoni pizza. She laughed and chatted with the server, completely unaware of what the employee really thought of her.
That is, until the next day, when she glanced at the receipt. Instead of Minhee’s name, the employee had typed the words “lady chinky eyes”. Dumbfounded at the racial slur, Minhee turned to Twitter to express her disillusionment, Tweeting “Hey
@PapaJohns , just FYI – my name isn’t “lady chinky eyes.”” The tweet, which went out at around 12:30 pm on Saturday, was accompanied by a pic of the offensive receipt (left, clipped from Minhee’s twitpic link). By 3:00 pm, the pic had been viewed over 25,000 times.
The Huffington Post attempted to contact Papa John’s, and reached an assistant manager who claimed no knowledge of the incident but insisted that she was sure the employee “meant no harm” but that “some people will take offense”. (Really? I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t object to being referred to as “lady chinky eyes”!!)
According to the NY Daily News, store manager Ronald Johnson said the employee was a teen misguided by hip-hop culture, stating, “It’s unfortunate, but this is the modern culture that they’re involved in.”
Around 6:30 pm, 7 hours after Minhee’s Tweet of the receipt and far, far too late, Papa John’s posted a comment on their official Facebook Page:
“We were extremely concerned to learn of the receipt issue in New York. This act goes against our company values, and we’ve confirmed with the franchisee that this matter was addressed immediately and that the employee is being terminated. We are truly sorry for this customer’s experience.”
Now, some people say Papa John’s shouldn’t be penalized for one franchise employee’s incredible rudeness. Unfortunately, big companies are – for better or worse – represented by the people that interact with the public on their behalf. At the least, Papa John’s should have been all over this instantly – why don’t they have someone monitoring Twitter and Facebook who has the authority to leap in and start damage control before half a day goes by?
We at Brilliance On Demand decided there are just too many SEO and SMM blogs out there – most of them telling you how to do things and most of them telling you wrong. The few blogs that get it right are so right that there’s really no point in doing anything else but pointing you at them and saying “Read THAT.” (See our blog roll for examples!)
However, it’s always fun and educational to read about people doing SEO and SMM really, really wrong. To that end, we’ve decided to gather the “worst of the web” together in one place to show you exactly how bad it can be when a company (or individual) self destructs online.
Why “Fail Kitty”?
Well, the best way to ensure you NEVER get accused of infringing on the rights of a photographer is to take all of your pics yourself. Amanda’s cat Zoe is always up for a disapproving glare into the camera phone – and for some unknown reason people LOVE cat pictures.
So there you go.
Introducing the FAIL KITTY.
Where we mercilessly make fun of those who utterly lose their sh*t online. Enjoy!