After the controversy of #DGLOVESCHINA Campaign and screenshots of the D&G co-founder Stefano Gabbana and Michaela Phuong Thanh Tranova private Instagram messages gone viral and the cancellation of Dolce&Gabbana show in Shanghai, we can’t help but wonder what will happen to the future of the brand.
THE DOMINO EFFECT
First of all, many public figures have taken action on this issue. Singer Wang Junkai said he had terminated an agreement to be its ambassador. While model Estelle Chen, who was scheduled to walk in the show, addressed Dolce & Gabbana on her Instagram.
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“You don’t love China, you love money,” she wrote. “China is rich yes but China is rich in its values, its culture and its people and they won’t spend a penny on a brand that does not respect that.”
The Communist party’s youth league also said on Weibo: “We welcome foreign companies to invest and develop in China … companies working in the country should respect China and Chinese people.”
More than just comments, this controversy also lead to Dolce & Gabbana’s products being pulled from Chinese e-commerce sites as the backlash against a controversial ad campaign grows.
Kaola, an e-commerce platform belonging to China’s NetEase confirmed it had removed the brand from its site, while the luxury goods retailer Secoo said it had pulled the brand’s listings on Wednesday evening. Yoox Net-a-Porter, a leading online high-end retailer, also said the brand’s wares were no longer available on its platforms within China.
Dolce & Gabbana items on the e-commerce sites hosted by Alibaba Group Holding and JD.com were no longer available, and searches for the brand returned no products. These pages previously linked to Dolce & Gabbana items.
Alina Ma, associate director of research at market insights firm Mintel, said to BBC the Dolce & Gabbana ad made Chinese consumers confused and appeared to show the company did not understand them.
“They want a brand that knows them, that makes them feel that they are important,” Ma said. “If you are a brand… in China and competing with local and other international brands if you show you don’t know China, you are not going to appeal to them.”
This controversy could hurt their business, but the long-term impact will depend on how they deal with it.
“If they can show they sincerely want to know the Chinese consumer, want to know the Chinese market, make Chinese consumer feel good… their business may turn around,” Ma said.
Dolce & Gabbana and Stefano Gabbana have responded to the controversy, especially about the viral private Instagram messages. They claimed their account was hacked and “very sorry for any distress caused by these unauthorized posts.” Stefano Gabbana also posts the viral screenshots with “NOT ME” super-imposed over them on his Instagram. Reproductions of his posts on show at the brand’s store in Shanghai too. But, many aren’t buying the excuse of hacking.
On November 23, Dolce & Gabbana finally took another step by publishing an apology video on Weibo. In the video, Gabbana and Domenico Dolce sit side by side offer their ‘sincerest apologies’ to Chinese people worldwide and apologise for ‘misunderstanding Chinese culture’.
“We offer our sincerest apologies to Chinese people worldwide,” said Gabbana. “We hope our misunderstanding of Chinese culture can be forgiven,” continued Dolce. The video ended with them saying the single word “sorry” in Mandarin.
Watch the full video here:
Apology video via Hong Kong Free Press’ YouTube