Being a weak and not very disciplined person I tend to start my day not with a vigorous work out or reading something weighty and worthy, but scanning my Twitter feed for something entertaining. So this morning I woke up to a meme accusing fashion house Dolce and Gabbana of making homophobic comments. This isn’t a political blog so readers can make up their own minds what they think of whether the D&G guys had a point or not when they suggested that gay couples shouldn’t raise children. But it did make me ponder just how careful the owner of a brand has to be.
In fact the first thought that struck me when I saw the image above was that they had mistakenly picked up on a Chanel No 5 image. In fact D&G have a similar perfume bottle so I suppose it is justified, but I did hesitate about including it for fear of having Chanel’s lawyers onto me. But on reflection it is probably a generic enough image.
But were the D&G guys wise to express their opinions in the first place? Given their history of advertising that courts controversy – including plenty of frankly homoerotic images – you’d have to be excused for wondering if they were deliberately being provocative. If so they definitely achieved their aim of attracting attention. And the conventional wisdom has it that there is no such thing as bad publicity.
The thing is, brands aren’t all equal. Some of them, D&G included, do also have a human face. We all know that there is a real Dolce and a real Gabbana out there. And what we think of them does matter. We might actually quite enjoy it when they misbehave a little and come up with an advert that pushes the boundaries. As Oscar Wilde put it in a prayer – Dear God please make all the bad people good and all the good people interesting. Stirring things up a bit and tweaking the noses of the pompous establishment is something most of us don’t dare to do ourselves but quite like watching somebody else do.
Dolce and Gabbana Homophobic Comments – Have they damaged the brand?
Saying unpleasant things about other people’s children on the other hand doesn’t have quite the same rebel cachet. And at least one major celebrity has taken umbrage about it. Celebrity endorsements matter hugely in this area. Some people have suggested that Chanel No 5 would have vanished by now had it not been championed by Marilyn Monroe in the fifties. This was something that she did completely spontaneously apparently. (Those were different times to ours for sure!). It is hard to imagine her doing so if the brand had attacked something she felt strongly about.
So I have a feeling that Dolce and Gabbana have made a blunder in this case if they thought that they were manipulating the press for some free exposure. I think that there is such a thing as bad publicity, and being boycotted by celebrities when you are a luxury brand is it.
The good news is you don’t need to own an international brand to make a comment. You can make one below.