Thursday, March 10, 2011

John Galliano's Outburst: Racist Rant Crisis

Christian Dior's British Creative Designer, John Galliano, was fired from his post after a video of his racist rant was circulated on the Internet. Galliano now faces criminal charges for his comments which are illegal in France.

In efforts to mitigate the fall-out from his outburst, Galliano issued an apology and denial through his lawyers after remaining silent on the matter for days. In his statement, Galliano stated that he “completely denies the claims made against him and that he has fully co-operated with police investigations.” He continued that he “took responsibility for the circumstances in which he found himself and for allowing himself to be seen to be behaving in the worst possible light.” Crisis management experts, like Davia Temin of Temin and Company, however believe that Galliano's response is inadequate to address stakeholders anger as according to Temin, apologies must not only be authentic and sincere but must be “in proportion” to the wrong committed.

In this post, I will not comment on Galliano's failure to issue an open, timely and 100% truthful response to the crisis.  Instead, I will focus my blog on proposing what Galliano's can do to manage this crisis.

According to the Framework I use, the first step is to determine if Galliano is indeed responsible for the crisis. Unfortunately based on the “citizen journalist” video of his ranting, it is painfully obvious that Galliano is.  Thus, Galliano has only two possible Crisis Response Strategies (CSR) to adopt – he can either diffuse or share responsibility, or he can accept responsibility.

As there are perceptions of an alleged pattern to his anti-Semitic behaviour (a Geraldine Bloch has lodged a police report that Galliano had threatened to kill her pal Philippe Virgitti in La Perle Bar, and that he had called her a "dirty Jew face") a diffuse/ share CRS in this scenario would not work.  This leaves Galliano with the only CSR of accept responsibility and help stakeholders to manage their anger towards him.

Thus, in this case, Galliano should (a) make a full and unreserved apology for his actions; (b) accept personal responsibility for his actions and its consequences; and (c) undertake actions to demonstrate his sincerity to make things right. The former two can be done via a Press Conference, while the third could entail actions like volunteering to undergo anger management therapy, making a personal (but public) apology to the victims of his actions, or even dedicating himself to work with Holocaust survivors. Galliano's CRS's Theme is to make him "human" in the eyes of the stakeholders.

If done correctly, Galliano could join the likes of Kate Moss who emerged from her cocaine snorting crisis earning more money than ever.

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