La Maison Simons: The Bra Backlash
(8 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
La Maison Simons was a successful 178-year-old, family-run fashion retailer with 15 locations across Canada and over CA$500 million in sales in 2018. On September 6, 2018, the president and chief executive officer (CEO), supported and approved the launch of a new marketing campaign featuring brassieres named after historic Canadian women. One of those women was the former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverley McLachlin. Within hours of the launch of the marketing campaign, La Maison Simons’s social media feed erupted with comments from angry users who viewed the campaign as objectifying and sexualizing iconic Canadian women. McLachlin was also upset, the company having named one of the bras after her with her permission. Following a phone conversation with McLachlin, the CEO issued a formal apology and destroyed all materials related to the campaign. At McLachlin’s request, the company also became involved with fundraising for a women’s shelter. The CEO, who was embarrassed by the marketing campaign and quickly took responsibility for his mistake, was concerned that he had tarnished the company’s brand. Had he done enough to redeem it? What more could he do in the short and long term to improve the company’s reputation? What had he learned from this disastrous marketing campaign?
This case can be used in undergraduate- and graduate-leve courses on leadership, communications, or marketing. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to do the following:
- Explain the importance of leadership character, including dimensions such as accountability and humility, as it relates to corporate decision-making.
- Identify the characteristics of effective leadership, and explain how leaders can contribute to valuing, embracing, and creating cultures of diversity in workplaces and beyond.
- Identify and analyze short- and long-term alternatives that the company could consider to improve consumers’ perceptions of the brand.
Canada, Large, 2018
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