Unprofessional PR work causes incalculable damage

We write November 2018. For sure everybody was reading about the problems of D&G (Dolce & Gabbana) in China related to their Italian fashion show.

The last couple of days I was in many talks with native speaking insiders of different age groups in both continents as well as with our close cooperation partners of Allied Management situated in the ASEAN region.
So let me give you a short personal summary what really happens and let me show some videos with opinions.

I personally feel very sorry for the two parts involved, the Chinese citizens feeling humiliated and the people working for the amazing brand D&G preparing the show.

The epic event was planned for the 21st of November in Shanghai and was canceled in the Morning of the same day by advise through government officials after sparked criticism from consumers.

The Morning of the event

To give you an impression: 360 models were contracted, 500 outfits were made, some 100 Tsd man hours were spend, a stage was built for 1 Million Dollars, expensive logistics were necessary, the contracted A-listed celebrities in China were on stand-by, 1500 visitors as audience were invited to the show etc.
My audience from NauticWebNews organizing international fairs know about that.

The show broke down in the morning from the backstage side. As Chinese Agencies were forced to cancel their participation after D&G accusations of racism were spread out by citizens, they also had to cancel the contracts of their models. Western models, logistic teams and stage builders working day and night got the unbelievable information through Twitter.

The accusations of racism

The popular western media press is mostly talking about screenshots circulating online in which Stefano Gabbana made a reference to “China Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia” and used the smiling poo emoji to describe the country. The PR team is still talking about that the account had been hacked.

Chinese people had a stronger reaction than the international audience seeing the advertising clip with a person behind the camera (an unknown not native speaker) giving unpleasant orders in Chinese how to eat Pizza with chopsticks. It is said from native sources that he even insulted the actress.
The wording and the tone which is very important in the Chinese language and is not understandable for foreigners speaking mid-level Mandarin. So most valuations of western professionals fail as we can see in many SocialMedia comments.

D&G reaction

A simple 对不起 (sorry) from Stefano Gabbana is not enough for a racist content in China and specially with a very nationalistic government. (Note: 对不起 is said when you step on someone’s foot or forget about his birthday)
And the 1 1/2 minute video clip of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana reading possibly from a teleprompter in Italian was not well received by Chinese costumers. The Chinese community talk about two liars now.
They really should be better advised by his marketing and public relations team. The work is a shame and made things even worse.
Speaking of making things worse, the PR team launched a “NOT ME” campaign then after which screwed up the topic in the Chinese society! The brand is now renamed to “Dead & Gone” in China.

Interviews done

I selected two interview clips of a young student (Hafu Guo) from the Tsinghua University (清华大学), an Elite University or the so called Harvard of China with also international students. It reflects a more tolerant opinion of future consumers.
Furthermore a clip as good summary from CNBC International TV. And from 纳豆奶奶 (a Chinese girl) some cultural explications to the owners in Italian (with Chinese subtitles).

Clip 1Clip 2Clip 3Clip 4
Hafu Guo from the Tsinghua University interviewing tolerant young students.

Hafu Guo from the Tsinghua University interviewing tolerant young students.

Good summary from CNBC International TV (23rd of November)

纳豆奶奶 – I hope this video can be seen by more foreigners, so everyone needs to like and watch! Work with me to eliminate foreign misunderstandings about China!
(translated from:) 希望这个视频能够让更多的外国人看到,所以需要大家的点赞和观看!跟我一起消除国外对中国的误解吧!You also can have a look to her Chinese bilibili.com/video account where she gives another response.


What is not really known

Could it have been intention to stir up the market by provocation, expecting that all SocialMedia users make a free “bad taste” advertising for them?
Is it “bad taste” or offensive? Many brands run an anonym teaser to prevent brand damage.

Personal Opinion

I think that the second biggest market for D&G could be “burned down” in China to say it literally.
As a first result all their products disappeared from online shops and as second there is a discussion in investment groups going on if they have to cancel the renting contracts for D&G in their malls. Saying this it is understandable that we are not talking about peanuts. And everybody following the SocialMedia in China should know about scandals and problems which are different like in the western world.
I would advise Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana to read about Chinese Philosophy (i.e. Confucianism, the favorite of Chinas President Xi) to understand their second biggest market and to select as well as control better their staff.
Furthermore the study of the existing controversies between Japanese brands like Toyota and the national feelings of Chinas citizens could turn on a light too.
In short words: the PR disaster 2018 / 19!

About G&D

Dolce & Gabbana is a well known Italian luxury fashion house founded in 1985 in Italy by the designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. The net worth of D&G is calculated with about $5.3 billion. Dolce owns about 42% and Gabbana about 40% according business media. So they will not have big problems with shareholders.

Info

  • Published in SocialMedia under: @dolcegabbana #DolceandGabbana #DG #DG广告 #Dolce #StefanoGabbana
  • Photo taken from an old press release of dolcegabbana.com/corporate



Norberto Moreau
Entrepreneur, Management Consultant and CEO of Allied Management
Website: allied-management.net/
Social Media:
Photos / Videos: Norberto Moreau