Last week, Dan Mathews, Vice President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) blasted Lady Gaga for prancing around in a fur coat. Gaga had previously been on the record professing, “I hate fur, and I don’t wear fur,” but recent photos of her in fox and rabbit, and with a wolf carcass, made it appear that she has either changed her mind or lost her memory. Matthews told Gaga via a public letter that by wearing fur, she’s making herself “a target, just like the mindless Kim Kardashian.” The non-leather gloves are off!
Gaga responded with a Tweet instructing those wondering whether her fur was real or faux to “credit the designer HERMES. Thank You!” She then issued a lengthier explanation on her LittleMonsters.com website and simultaneously took a dig at PETA, saying that she doesn’t support “violent, abusive, and childish campaigns.”
“I am choosing not to comment on whether or not the furs I purchase are faux fur-pile or real because I would think it hypercritical [sic] not to acknowledge the python, ostrich, cow hide, leather, lamb, alligator, ‘kermit’ and not to mention meat, that I have already worn,” she said, referencing her infamous meat dress of 2010.
Gaga continued “…I have truly always stayed away from skinned fur, especially [since] I have never been able to afford a nice one, but this does not mean my morals are rigid and that I won’t bend at the sight of an absolute art piece of a coat… But I am truly sorry to fans who are upset by this, its [sic] a fair and applaudable [sic again] feeling about the health and safety of animals. I respect your views, please respect mine. And Kim Kardashian is fabulous,” the megastar added.
The PR Verdict: D (PR Problematic) for Lady Gaga. While a chastising public letter from PETA could be construed as “violent, abusive or childish,” it might also have been possible to turn the other cheek and let the whole issue blow over. The more important lesson for Gaga is to choose allies, such as the intractable PETA, carefully.
The PR Takeaway: Stand by your message or abandon it, but don’t remix it by saying one thing, then sort of retracting it. If you’re against fur, be against fur. If not, fine, but being against some fur and not all is a tad wishy-washy, and former allies like PETA will understandably make a meal of it. On the plus side, communicating via an impassioned blog keeps the connection with fans strong. But one tip: typos and mistakes don’t prove authenticity of authorship. A copy editor won’t dilute the message, however confusing the substance might be.