Good & Bad PR 4 minute read
Fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana (off of Dolce & Gabbana fame) are in the middle of a public spat with Elton John over comments they made during an interview with Italy’s Panorama magazine.
It’s not because they slated Crocodile Rock or any of the superstar’s other banging tunes though, it’s because of comments the designer duo made about gay parenting. During their interview with the magazine, they aired opinions such as “We oppose gay adoptions. The only family is the traditional one” and “You are born to a mother and a father – or at least that's how it should be. I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalogue.” This is all despite the fact that Dolce and Gabbana are openly gay themselves and Gabbana once allegedly asked a friend to be a surrogate mother for him.
Elton John, whose young sons Zachary and Elijah were conceived through IVF and is married to David Furnish, was outraged by the comments. He posted an image of the designers on Instagram with the comment “How dare you refer to my beautiful children as "synthetic". And shame on you for wagging your judgemental little fingers at IVF – a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfil their dream of having children. Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again. #BoycottDolceGabbana”.
Celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Ricky Martin and Courtney Love were soon to show their shock at the pair’s comments too. However, the designers hit back at the comments and so did Panorama magazine, saying that there were “double standards”, with Courtney Love having taken heroin during her pregnancy and Elton John having sang with Eminem and Axel Rose, despite those stars having homophobic lyrics in their songs.
On Monday, Gabbana issued a statement on Instagram saying “We talked about our way of seeing reality, but it was never our intention to judge other people's choices. We do believe in freedom and love.” In a separate stamen, Dolce said “I'm Sicilian and I grew up in a traditional family, made up of a mother, a father and children. I am very well aware that there are other types of families and they are as legitimate as the one I've known."
Backtracking somewhat? Either way, the comments haven’t done them any favours. As you can probably imagine, most media outlets have been quick to pick up on this, so although there’s nothing wrong with free speech and expressing opinions, there’s nowhere for the designers to hide from their comments now.
During Milan fashion week in early March, the latest Dolce & Gabbana show was called “Mamma” and featured female models holding children; so, that’s probably where all these comments about the “traditional” family stemmed from.
If you’ve heard of or seen the movie Ex Machina, you’ll know it features a fully humanoid artificial intelligence called Ava (and a guy who almost falls for her during a weird experiment).
At this year’s SXSW, a music, film and interactive conference and festival held in Austin, Texas, the marketing team for the film decided it was the perfect opportunity to launch a stunt that would promote the sci-fi thriller. You see, the movie’s North American debut was at SXSW on Saturday.
An account for a 25-year-old named Ava was set up on the dating app Tinder, using a photo of Alicia Vikander who plays Ava in Ex Machina. Anyone swiping right on Ava’s picture was asked questions “by her” via messages, about what makes a person human, where they would like to meet and what attracted them to the girl shown in the pictures.
After giving their answers, the users were directed to an Instagram account which promoted Ex Machina. Clever stuff (although slightly heart-breaking for the guys who thought they were in with a chance). It’s unclear if the film’s marketers officially partnered with Tinder for this stunt, which is unlikely given that fake accounts have been shut down on the app for much better causes in the past (like when the Brazilian government used fake accounts to promote safe sex).
Anyway, it was a clever move by the film’s promoters, especially given that the SXSW audience is typically the tech-savvy sort and would appreciate a well-thought-out stunt like this. The coverage has so far hit the likes of Mashable, The Guardian, Engadget, Adweek, Wired and plenty of other places.
As the stunt was all about getting Tinder users to fall for a “robot”, it was an excellent fit for the movie in which the same thing happens.
Shannon Haigh, 10 Yetis, @ShazzaYeti on Twitter
Seen any good or bad PR recently, you know what to do, @10Yetis on Twitter or firstname.lastname@example.org on email.