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Could Dolce and Gabbana have got it more wrong?

It’s a good job that PR and media consultants exist! Why? Because there seem to be soooo many people in the world who fail to understand basic principles of having a public conversation.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana did a fine job on themselves this week. They expressed an opinion on adoption by gay couples. They should be entitled to an opinion, right? Well, maybe.

When your name is deliberately and inextricably linked to a brand every utterance has relevance. In this case, when you take a stance, unless you really don’t care about the consequences you should stop and think first about what those consequences might be.

D&G seem to have been taken by surprise by the reaction to their views, as led by one Elton John Esq. and quickly followed-up by his equally megastar status friends and supporters.

So what did D&G do themselves? They responded, defending their right to have an opinion because it should, in their view, have no bearing on the cut of a shirt or the preference of a Hollywood starlet for the origin of her dress.

But isn’t that somewhat naive when it comes to fashions? Anyone who picks up a Dolce & Gabbana garment is buying into an image, a club which says I can afford this and I have taste. Taint that in any way and it’s all too easy for the customer to turn to the next rack or saunter to the next store on Rodeo Drive and opt for a less contentious brand instead – at least for the time being.

In the fickle world or celebrity, it could so easily become fashionable in its own right to boycott a certain brand.

Do I think D&G have managed to destroy their business with their comments? No. But I do think they’ve managed to add a stain that was unnecessary and unhelpful. For some time to come they will be associated with taking a particular and not politically correct social (even political, if you like) stance. Savvy public operators will just prefer to stay away from that and a lack of D&G frocks on red carpets *will* be noticed by commentators whose job it is to spot such things. Sometimes it doesn’t take much for a self-fulfilling prophecy to get rolling.

If you’re the brand or you’re a high profile mouthpiece for a brand, discretion is often the better part of valour if you care about the bottom line.

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