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!