Stefano Gabbana is known for very edgy ads and posts on social media. Some people say over the edge – way over the edge.
The brand ran a series of commercials of Chinese people eating pizza and other Italian foods with chopsticks on the eve of a star-studded fashion show in Hong Kong. I suspect someone thought that it was something the Chinese would find funny (?).
Then Gabbana’s Instagram account sent out racist taunts to people who were complaining about the ad campaign.
The company’s response was to claim that both Stefano’s and the Company’s Instagram accounts were hijacked. Few people believed that. Stefano posted this note on his instagram account after.
If there is one thing the Chinese are, it is loyal to their country. Models pulled out of the show. Next celebrity guests pulled out. The show was cancelled less than 24 hours before it was scheduled to go on.
Now D&G merchandise is being pulled from store shelves and removed from web sites. A full scale disaster for the company.
So what lessons are there to learn from this?
The obvious one is that if your strategy for getting attention is edgy commercials and racist social media posts, you might want to rethink that, especially in certain countries.
In reality, most companies don’t do that, at least on purpose.
The bigger issue is how to respond to cyber incidents.
Lets assume their accounts were hijacked. It is certainly possible. Obviously, you want to beef up your social media security if you are doing things that might attract attackers, but more importantly, nothing is bulletproof in cyberspace, so you need an incident response program to deal with it.
That incident response program needs to deal with the reputational fallout of events that may or may not be in the company’s control. Crisis communications is a key part of incident response.
The Incident response team needs to be identified and then the team members need to be trained. That can be done with “table-top” exercises.