D&G's Marketing Missteps in China (A): How to Balance Fashion Brand Strategy and Cultural Sensitivity?
On 18 November 2018, Dolce & Gabbana S.R.L. (D&G) released three short videos on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter as well as Sina Weibo in China to promote its first-ever fashion show in mainland China. The campaign was specifically designed to drum up excitement about an important catwalk event to be held at the Expo Center of Shanghai on 21 November 2018. However, the videos did not create the intended positive effect. In fact, the incongruous or extreme presentations in the videos jeopardized the entire promotion campaign. From the Chinese audience's perspective, the D&G videos were not entertaining but inappropriate, offensive, and racist. The result enraged the Chinese audience and fueled a heated online debate. Within 24 hours, under public pressure, D&G was forced to remove the videos from its Weibo promotion channel. While many Chinese media users were demanding a formal apology from D&G for the videos, the company allowed the debate to simmer and boil for the next few days. This case is the first case of a three-part case series. It can be used on a stand-alone basis or in combination with Case B (D&G's Marketing Missteps in China (B): The Deepening Crisis) and Case C (D&G's Marketing Missteps in China (C): The Epilogue).