Ralph Lauren’s PR crisis

Ralph Lauren and blog BoingBoing.net are today at each other’s throats over images used by the fashion brand showing a rather skinny looking model.

 

The image, Boing Boing claims, has been touched up in photoshop and today on the blog another picture was published showing how a graphic designer had “unworked” the advert to show a healthy looking woman.

Skinny

 

Read about it here:

http://craphound.com/10-2-09LettertoPriorityColoinrePRLInfringement.pdf

 

So assuming Ralph Lauren is in the wrong, what can it do to halt the damage to its reputation? (note I say assuming, but it looks pretty certain that this woman is not this shape through exercise alone!)

 

  1.  Speed is of the essence.  Deal with the problem and deal with it quickly before it gets worse.  Ralph Lauren can’t stop the story getting out but it can halt interest in it.
  2. Get to the bottom of what really happened.
  3. Provide a statement accepting that Ralph Lauren made a mistake.  (We all make errors!)
  4. Show some humanity.  Perhaps try ‘empathy’…  Show that Ralph Lauren understands the damage anorexia and bulimia causes.
  5. Demonstrate that this is a one off incident.  (make sure it is first)
  6. Demonstrate commitment to an anorexia charity and / or create company guidelines on the manipulation of digital imagery.  This can’t be tokenistic, so be generous.
  7. Follow up the crisis a month later with media relations to show that Ralph Lauren “meant business” when the fashion brand said this wouldn’t happen again
  8. Continue to be proactive on the topic of eating disorders, photoshop distortions, and skinny models

 

(I’ve assumed that Ralph Lauren have got all the basics in place. E.g. a crisis trained spokesperson, a crisis manual has been prepared prior to this event, media monitoring is in place and an international network of PR agencies is ready to support the brand)

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