Tag Archives: PR

louis vuitton wants you to stop talking about them

Jeremiah Owyang woke me up this morning (on Twitter) to a fascinating, instructive tale of a major brand getting drawn in to a major international crisis, against their will and to their detriment, and responding to it in a predictable, though shortsighted way.  Somewhere, a PR department is having a very bad Sunday.

Yes, I check Twitter before I get out of bed.

So what happened?

An artist created a T-shirt to raise awareness of the genocide in Durfur, and to vent some frustration at a media culture that gives more face-time to Paris Hilton than the victims of conflicts such as this one.

The T-shirt shows a victim of Darfur holding a Louis Vuitton-style luxury handbag in one arm, and a Paris Hilton-style toy dog in the other.  Jeremiah has a great recap of the whole story here.

So what happened next?

On a smaller scale, I woke up thinking who the heck is LV? and now, an hour later, I know exactly who LV is, and I know they’re knee-deep in a mess that wrong-foots them on an international issue on which practically everyone agrees, one that sets them up as a litigious Goliath, one that makes them appear anti-artist and anti-free-speech.

The plus side?

I am thinking about Louis Vuitton, and so are lots of other people.  I am NEVER thinking about Louis Vuitton.

That’s why the company’s reaction is so wrong here: sending the artist a Cease-and-Desist letter, and trying to make the issue go away through brute force.

Instead, they should take advantage of this rare opportunity — hundreds and thousands of people who on a daily basis couldn’t give a fig about your brand suddenly — briefly — do.

They have a very small window of opportunity to use this momentum to their own benefit, to the benefit of the victims in Darfur, to the benefit of the artist that started it all, and to the benefit of the artists in general.

Louis Vuitton can set an example, can be a brand who gets it right, by realizing that the spotlight is on them right now, whether they like it or not, and that they have the power to turn this into a PR opportunity, not a PR nightmare.

As I said in response to Jeremiah’s post:

…it makes me crazy when brands do this sort of thing. Here they have an opportunity: suddenly this Sunday morning hundreds/thousands of people who hadn’t given their brand a second thought are talking and typing and wondering how to spell “Vuitton,” and all they can say is “Stop talking about us?”

This is exactly the moment when they need to use the momentum to advance their brand, not cause further damage.

They can’t cram the genie back into the bottle, but they might still get three wishes, if they try really hard.

Think this has nothing to do with nonprofits?

Don’t think that your nonprofit doesn’t have a brand, because it certainly does, and don’t fool yourself that a PR nightmare like this wouldn’t happen to that brand, because it certainly could.

Nonprofits need to think about brand management just like for-profit corporations do.  Perhaps even more so, because charities are often held to a higher standard, and ethical blemishes can be even harder for nonprofits to rinse out.

Do you still think Red Cross = Fiscal Mismanagement?

What about Smithsonian = Complete Chaos in Management?

Finally, remember that crises like the LV brandjacking above represents an opportunity for more than just the injured brand to do good — do you know a nonprofit organization that does work in Darfur?  Wouldn’t this be a good time to reach out to Louis Vuitton and see how you might be able to work together?


blogging to advance your core mission

Do you think your organization needs a blog? Or is it just a “someday” thing — a back-burner item that you feel just has to wait until you can get more on track with fulfilling your mission, becoming better known and better respected, building your donor base, getting the press to cover you, and driving attendance to your events?

And what, exactly, is it that you think blogs do?

Many organizations that would benefit from establishing and maintaining a blog are “putting it off” because they think of blogging as an “extra,” an additional, unnecessary piece of PR fluff that will take staff time away from the real, serious matters that are central to their mission.

A blog isn’t a bell or a whistle. A blog is a powerful, easily hefted tool that can achieve several goals at once. They are also cheap, easy, and incredibly low-tech.
This recent article in NPTech News (that’s nonprofit technology news for the uninitiated) spells out very clearly what the benefits of organizational blogging are.

My favorites:

1. Search engine optimization

Hosting a blog on your site can rapidly and vastly improve your search engine results. Why? Because Google (and other search engines) prize fresh content. Updating a blog takes almost zero technical skill and merely a basic business-writing level competency. For that, and ten minutes a day, you can greatly improve your page rank.

2. Expert in the Field

Don’t just be a children’s theater. Be an expert on children’s theater. Don’t just be an art gallery. Be a resource for the artist community. Don’t just sell your art online. Teach others about the process of creating art, about color theory, about outsider art. It’s not marketing – it’s sharing. The marketing is secondary, accidental — and far more effective because of that.

3. Awareness

    Be your own media source. Cover yourself, your mission, your services — relentlessly. Feature your volunteers, your sponsors, your staff, your members as much as humanly possible. Do all this in your own distinctive, human voice.

    4. Events

    Spend less on postage. Annoy your newsletter subscribers less. Maintain an interesting blog, with fresh content regularly served, and people will willingly visit and read your news and information. Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true.

    5. Fundraising

      Online donation is rising every year, and not by a little. Nonprofits of all sizes, missions, and demographics have successfully used “charity badges” to make it as easy as one or two clicks for supporters to donate online. Each blog post gives your readers a compelling reason to hit that Donate Now! button, and hit it hard.

      …and that’s only five out of the ten cited in the article.

      Do I think it’s a bit of headline-crafting hyperbole to say that “Every organization MUST have a blog?” Sure.

      But I also think that organizations would be harder pressed to make the case for not having a blog than for having one.

      For every core objective you have in your communications plan, there is a way that blogging can advance that objective.