Italian fashion house Dolce and Gabbana is in a bit of tough spot coming off of a recent interview the pair did with Italy’s Panorama magazine. During the interview, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, both gay men who were for several decades a couple, commented on their beliefs regarding traditional families. Here’s a quick translation to catch you up (via Britain’s The Telegraph):
"We oppose gay adoptions. The only family is the traditional one."
"You are born to a mother and a father — or at least that's how it should be," Dolce said. "I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog."
Gabbana: "The family is not a fad. In it there is a supernatural sense of belonging."
The designers, who have rejected same-sex marriage in the past, have stirred up quite the scandal with Elton John, the English musician who just recently wed his long-time partner and has two children via in vitro fertilization.
Since the interview, a Twitter feud has escalated, leading Elton John to #BoycottDolceGabbana and the designers to #BoycottEltonJohn. This isn’t a gossip magazine, so we won’t be reporting a play by play of who said what.
Instead, we’re focusing on the PR nightmare that is accruing interest for Dolce and Gabbana. Although there are plenty of people out there who would say that any kind of press is good press, this situation doesn’t seem to apply.
Both Dolce and Gabbana have responded since, saying the comments were taken out of context, and that the pair understands that there are many different types of families. However, they are not offering apologies or rescinding their statements.
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There are a few things companies can learn from this situation. If you’re looking to avoid scandal and in this case, boycotts, it may be wise to keep these personal views to yourself. And regardless of whether Dolce or Gabbana are in the right with their views, that’s exactly what they are: opinions. Many customers will be swayed by them voicing their opinions, but if it is an important enough issue to you or your leadership, don’t take back the statement. Apologies can help lessen the burn, but only if they are sincere.
Not everyone is going to like you, your brand, your ideas or your opinions. It’s up to you what to broadcast about yourself and your brand: choose wisely.