Lululemon CEO Chips Brand’s Reputation

Lululemon, popular Canadian athletic and yoga wear retailer for women, has found itself in a PR pinch.



Photo courtesy of Lululemon

In April 2013, the brand lost more than $67 million on a massive recall of almost 17 percent of their iconic yoga pants for the material appearing too sheer, their fourth quality-control issue of the year. And, from customer comments on their blog, it seems that there are several other issues that remain unaddressed.

Although the recall of their $72 to $108 yoga pants happened several months ago, Lululemon has triggered new complaints over the quality of certain styles of pants.


Photo courtesy of Business Insider

With a new batch of complaints about quality in the mix, the brand has been a popular subject in the past week due to the actions of Lululemon’s co-founder Chip Wilson.

In an interview on Bloomberg TV’s “Street Smart” on Tuesday, Nov 5, Wilson was asked to comment on complaints about the yoga pants. This was his response:

“Frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work for it. They don’t work for some women’s bodies. It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it.”

Many women are not taking Wilson’s comments lightly and find them very offensive. A blog post by Café Mom’s Maressa Brown states, “Sounds like in Wilson’s humble opinion, some women are just too fat to wear Lululemon.“

With so many customers already complaining about a decrease in product quality, you would think the brand and its founders would do everything in their power to appease them. Deflecting blame from the brand and placing it on the customers might not go over well and may cause them to lose business.

Wilson issued an apology video three days later, stating:

“I’d like to talk to you today about the last few days of media that’s occurred around the Bloomberg interview. I’m sad, I’m really sad, I’m sad for the repercussions of my actions, I’m sad for the people of Lululemon who I care so much about, that have really had to face the brunt of my actions. For all of you who have made Lululemon what it is today, I ask you to stay in the conversation that is above the fray. I ask you to prove that the culture that you have built cannot be chipped away.”

The video seemingly apologizes to Lululemon employees and stakeholders — but not their customers. So, is this video enough to mend the negative image Wilson has cast on his brand?

What other crisis communication strategies and tactics should Lululemon implement? How effective is Chip Wilson’s video?

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