Barney’s and Jay-Z Get Bad Rap From Shoppers

Jay Z 150x150 Barneys and Jay Z Get Bad Rap From Shoppers

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Barney’s and Jay-Z.

It would take a lot to equal the PR humiliation suffered by Zurich boutique Tres Pommes when Oprah Winfrey asked to see a handbag and was refused by a clerk who said she couldn’t afford it. However, Barney’s may find itself in the running; the luxury Manhattan retail store recently suffered two embarrassing moments that could impact a big celebrity tie-in with rapper Jay-Z.

Trayon Christian, 19, said he was stopped by police after buying a $300 Ferragamo belt from Barney’s flagship store on Madison Avenue. Kayla Phillips, 21, was also questioned by police after purchasing a $2,500 bag. Both are African American.

While the incidents occurred earlier this year, they made the news recently in conjunction with Jay-Z’s November 20 launch of a line of clothing and jewelry in association with Barney’s. The negative publicity triggered a storm of protest and a petition calling for boycotts against Barney’s for racial profiling.

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Barney’s and Jay-Z.

THE PR TAKEAWAY:  In tandem projects, take care as to who says what when. As the negative press hit the media and Jay-Z was called out by fans and fellow musicians alike, Barney’s was the first to respond with a statement of apology and a review of practices. As for Jay-Z, he remained mostly quiet – and got flak for it. “I haven’t made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barney’s,” he said. Once Barney’s made its first move, Jay-Z might have been wise to jump in with some more supportive PR. After all, one speaker at a time makes good PR sense, but prolonged hesitation only dilutes the final message.

The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & Losers

 

conradblack 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK:  “A” (PR Perfect) to Conrad Black (left). For sheer entertainment value, the former media mogul’s interview with BBC’s Newsnight wins hands down. Black breaks almost every PR rule of thumb for media interviews, yet emerges defiant and singularly unmovable. His first interview in the UK since he was released from prison, Black never gives in and never explains, responding to aggressive questioning with one splendid insult after another. By the end of the Q&A, there is some begrudging admiration for the man. This is Conrad Black unfiltered and unrepentant. Watch the interview here.

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (Full Fiasco) to Richard Mourdock (at right, with Mitt Romney), the Republican Indiana Senate candidate whose platform includes denial of abortion to rape victims. “I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,” Mourdock said during this week’s Indiana Senate debate. Mitt Romney did not distance himself from the controversial candidate, giving Democrats ammunition and the PR world further proof that staying on message is key. Saying little keeps the PR options open while being frank creates needless complications.

 

Minniemouse 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” PR AWARD TO: Plus Size activists, who garnered over 120,000 signatures for a petition arguing that the latest marketing campaign from NY retailer Barneys should be dropped. What’s causing offense? A revamped super-skinny Minnie Mouse. Advocates are angry, claiming it sends a disturbing image of body shape, despite the fact that in the campaign, the “new” Minnie briefly walks the runway as a model  in a dream sequence. So the Plus Size movement targets a dream had by a cartoon character; was it really worth the effort? Choose your battles, and your cartoon mice, carefully.