Gucci’s Social-Media Status Fell After “Black Face” Marketing Fumble, and Its North American Sales Dropped

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
FILE – In this Feb. 21, 2018, file photo, a model wears a creation as part of the Gucci women’s Fall/Winter 2018-2019 collection, presented during the Milan Fashion Week, in Milan, Italy. Italian fashion designer Gucci is announcing a major push to step up its diversity hiring following an uproar over an $890 sweater that resembled blackface, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. The company also says it will hire a global director for diversity and inclusion, a newly created role. Gucci also is promising to launch a scholarship program to cultivate diverse design talent. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File)

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In the age of cancel culture, brands have to be careful how they move. Gucci learned that the hard way. After releasing a sweater that looked akin to blackface in February, the luxury fashion company lost leverage on social media and experienced a drop in North American sales, reported the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The losses came after the brand spent years using social media to smartly align itself with the hip-hop community. After the sweater’s debut, however, social media became Gucci’s worst critic.

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The backlash was immense and immediate, despite Gucci’s apology and pulling the sweater. According to WSJ, “Celebrities posted videos of themselves burning Gucci products and called for boycotts, including rapper T.I., who on Instagram declared himself “a 7 figure/yr customer & long time (sic) supporter” of Gucci.”

It is a testament to the fact that social media can tear a brand down as quickly as it builds it up. And Gucci is just one of several luxury brands that have made insensitive choices in front of the world on social media. Prada and Versace both made royal fumbles too.

Remember, these days sticks and stones can break your bones and social media posts can hurt you.