The Cook, the Worker, the Cryer, and the Player

Anne Peirson-Smith

Business Case
Source: Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases
DOI: 10.5040/9781350990258.0009
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Abstract

The business problem in this case centers on a company’s crisis communications response to accusations of stereotypical gender representation of female and male models in their advertising. The case analyzes the social media backlash for Hong Kong-based, international mass-market fashion retailer Giordano following its May 2018 promotional campaign: “Team Family.” The “Team Family” campaign was introduced for the brand’s new womenswear, menswear, and childrenswear fashion collection and featured a family of four: mother, father, and two young children all wearing slogan T-shirts. The “Cook” T-shirt was worn by the mother; the “Work” T-shirt by the father; and slogans “Play” and “Cry” by the two young male children, respectively. Within weeks of the campaign’s release and in response to vociferous criticism of the sexist and demeaning representation of women as domestic support, in contrast to portraying men as workers and financial providers, Giordano pulled the advertisement and issued an apology. This case asks students to examine this incident and how it highlights the need for brands to engage in proactive issues management directly relating to inclusivity and diversity in the communication content of their clothing designs and advertising campaigns directed at their various stakeholders in the branding process to preserve brand image, brand identity, and brand equity. Additionally, this case provides opportunities to discuss how stakeholder relationships and brand equity can be impacted by social and cultural ideologies embedded in the content of garment design and promotional discourse specifically portraying gender identity both visually and verbally as a type of gender display. It also enables the student to identify proactive solutions as a form of preparedness planning to typical issues and resulting crises faced by fashion brands often played out in and intensified by netizens using social media channels and how this potentially damaging situation can be minimized and managed.


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