Lululemon’s CEO: The Nightmare Spokesperson

Erik Bernstein crisis communications, crisis management, Crisis Prevention, crisis public relations, Crisis Response, Erik Bernstein, Jonathan Bernstein, media crisis management, media relations, media training, public relations, reputation management 1 Comment

We don’t envy the crisis management team in this case

Some people simply should not act as spokesperson for your organization. Unfortunately, when that person is your CEO, dissuading them from granting interviews may be difficult at best.

Lululemon’s CEO Chip Wilson landed his company, which is still in recovery from a marketing snafu that resulted in stakeholders flooding its social media accounts with angry comments, in even more hot water when he implied (among other awkward statements) that women whose thighs touch are responsible for Lululemon pants’ sheerness problems, not shoddy manufacturing.

Smelling blood in the water, Bloomberg was quick to put together a clip that even further magnified the glaring communication errors made by Wilson:

There are actually two crisis management lessons to be taken from this situation. First off, if you give the media a juicy negative story, they can (and will!) run with it, doing everything in their power to point out exactly how horrible you are in case it wasn’t obvious enough.

Second, as we stated above, some people should never, ever be allowed to act as spokesperson for your organization. We would venture to guess that either Mr. Wilson never participated in any media training at all, or that he and his team ignored the advice of whatever poor trainer they used. If nothing else, Wilson should have known the first time he saw reporter Trish Regan’s “WTF?” face that his comments were way out of line.

Of course, there is the issue of who’s going to tell the CEO he can’t go on TV, but even the densest of execs should be able to understand the drop in Lululemon share price that accompanied Wilson’s asinine statements.

Erik Bernstein
Social Media Manager

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