Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bunny Butcher: PETA Protests Donna Karan New York

*Note - This is a group posting by: Rajneesh Tingal, Hye Ryong Yu, Claudia Kyra Hamann Turkowsky, Sarah Flick, and Vijay Balkrishna Waghmare

PETA’s campaign against DKNY’s use of Chinese rabbit fur, culminating in the infamous Cyber Monday DK Bunny Butcher Facebook protest, provides us with some valuable social media management lessons. The following are some key points from our analysis of the actions of both companies.

Be Honest: By promising to end their use of rabbit fur and then repeatedly going back on that promise, DKNY made the problem worse. They should have clarified their position, even if it was one PETA’s supporters didn’t like, and stuck to it.

Attention Doesn’t Equal Change: PETA’s eye-catching Facebook posts were perfectly timed for maximum exposure. News of the "attack" spread across the web within hours, and there was significant media coverage in the weeks that followed. However despite PETA’s viral success, DKNY made no changes to its policy. 

Use Your Resources: PETA is one the largest animal rights organization in the world, but its Facebook tactics made it look like a group of fringe vigilantes. PETA could have employed a more comprehensive strategy using multiple platforms (not just Facebook) and/or worked in conjunction with its allies to present a more professional and effective message.

Silence Is Unacceptable: In the present age, silence can never be a strategy. The lack of response on the part of DKNY was irresponsible. Social media accounts need constant monitoring, especially on traffic-heavy days like Cyber Monday. Even if the company had decided to forgo a lengthy response until after the shopping day, some sort of indication of monitoring should have been made.

Stay In Control of the Message: Be clear on what the main message is and how it is evolving within your audience. Follow the message and engage every step of the way through social media so that you may continue shaping the narrative to keep it consistent with your campaign goal (to stop the use of rabbit's fur for fashion purposes, in this case).

Conclusion: Neither company was a "winner" in this case. DKNY got a lot of bad publicity and PETA didn't achieve its goal. For future campaigns, PETA should consider taking a more positive, educational approach. Their affinity for shock value can be effective at getting people's attention in the short term, but it can also drive people away. On DKNY's part, they should be more proactive in responding to criticism.

To check out the latest on these organizations, visit the PETA and DKNY Facebook pages.

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