On the morning of 21 November 2018, Diet Prada, an Instagram account that uncovered the dark secrets and stories about the fashion industry, posted alleged text messages between Dolce & Gabbana S.R.L. (D&G)’s cofounder Stefano Gabbana and fashion writer Michaela Phuong. In the exchange, Stefano complained about the removal of D&G’s videos (#DGLovesChina and #DGTheGreatShow) from Chinese social media Weibo amid an onslaught of criticisms. Stefano’s alleged anti-China comments on Instagram, coupled with the D&G videos that were perceived as racist and offensive, prompted a slew of outraged responses not only from the Chinese consumers but also from its own brand ambassadors and celebrity partners in China. Many immediately severed ties with the brand. Following this intense backlash from celebrities and consumers, a number of retailers took swift action to sever connections with D&G and removed its products. Bowing to the public backlash from the controversial videos and the Instagram post, the founders of D&G made a personal apology through a video address. This case is a continuation of D&G’s marketing missteps in China (A).
This case could be used to lead class discussions in advertising, cultural sensitivity, crisis management, and communication as well as international marketing/advertising. The teaching objectives of the case are to:
- Discuss the difficulties of using humor in advertising and how social and cultural values play an important role in influencing consumers’ responses to such strategy.
- Discuss the potential advantages and risks of using humorous appeals in advertising campaigns.
- Understand the concept of crisis management and communication and the damages caused by ineffective handling of crisis communication.
- Identify barriers to effective crisis management and learning and examine how learning from crisis can be maximized.
- Illustrate the significant effect of social media in escalating a crisis situation.
- Understand the power of social media and explore ways to integrate social media channels into the crisis management and communication process.
- Demonstrate the value of crisis communication timing for reputations.
- Understand how to repair reputational damage and rebuild long-term corporate image after a crisis.
- Discuss ways to prevent the recurrence of similar crisis.