I’m trying to learn for my Communications class and I’m stuck. Can you help?
Over the past two years a number of companies have made PR blunders that expose how much work there is still to do in building our capacity to manage our efforts to effectively engage diversity and inclusion, and to communicate about these issues strategically.
For this week’s discussion post, choose one of the examples from the list below (or choose another example that you are familiar with), describe the controversy facing the company/organization, and then use what you have learned this week, and throughout this course, to describe how you think the organization could have handled their public messaging more effectively.
Be sure to reference at least one course material in making your case for how the organization should have reacted/responded.
You may want to Google a little more about the situation to broaden your understanding of “what happened” and feel free to share images/context/details as needed.
Here are some case options to choose from:
1) A Major Fashion Mishap: H&M’s “Coolest Monkey In The Jungle”
H&M released a poorly thought-out ad of one of their products which ignited a press and social media sandstorm. The clothing-retail company featured a young black boy wearing a hoodie which read “Coolest monkey in the jungle”. Many people found it to be racist, inappropriate and negligent. The company reacted by sending out their first apology a day after the image was noticed. Neither the CEO nor the chairman’s names were associated with this crisis and no names of any higher-ups in the company were found in the apology post.
2) A Total Fashion Disaster: Gucci’s Blackface Sweater
The $890, black turtleneck was removed from its website after people said that the sweater resembled a black face. Many twitter users were outraged that Gucci would release such a garment during Black History Month and demanded the product was removed from sale. The company did so and took to Twitter to release a statement: “Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper. We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make’’. Angry social media users expressed that if more people of color worked at the fashion house, this insensitive garment may have been flagged as inappropriate and racist before being sold and would have definitely saved them making this serious fashion error.
3) A Beauty Blunder: Sephora Closes For Diversity Training
The company faced backlash when singer, SZA blasted on social media about her experience at a Sephora store in Calabasas, California where she was followed by security after an employee accused her of shoplifting. The company reacted well on social media for taking forceful action by holding “inclusivity” workshops after the incident of racial profiling with their immediate response to SZA’s tweet saying, “You are a part of the Sephora family, and we are committed to ensuring every member of our community feels welcome and included at our stores”. Unfortunately, their response wasn’t quite so well received when it came to light that the training was a pre-planned initiative that actually had nothing to do with the SZA incident – in fact, they just lied to make it seem as though it was.
4) Burger Backlash: Burger Kings Veganuary Mess-Up
Adopting a vegan diet has become pretty popular in the UK over the past few years for various reasons and has left quite a lot of restaurants and food brands in a position where they’ve needed to move with the times. Many fast food restaurants including Greggs, KFC and McDonalds have launched products suitable for vegan consumers to their menus and have been praised for doing so. Burger King chose to do the same and during Veganuary launched a plant-based burger, which in theory sounds great if you’re a vegan. Wrong. The product actually isn’t suitable for vegans! The Soy based burger is cooked on the same grill as the meat burgers and therefore can’t be eaten by vegans – which sort of defeats the point of it being a vegan burger. Of course, this was picked up by the press and spoken about on social media. Burger King responded by saying that ‘the burger was for flexitarians and designed for people who want to cut down on their meat consumption, not cut out meat completely.’ Using an awareness month as a hook to launch a product that isn’t actually suitable for your audience isn’t such a great idea.
Readings and videos (include the uploaded files and please refer at least one):