Women, Lands' End and Election 2016
I suspect someone(s) at Lands' End really didn't think this one through.
Lands' End, neglecting to internalize one of the key takeaways of female empowerment that "You can be anything! But you can't be everything." pulled its Gloria Steinem interview from its ad campaign and catalog in response to public criticism and a boycott. Which has led to public criticism and a boycott.
This article by Ad Age is two years old, but it's a good overview of the issues companies face when trying to incorporate female empowerment or feminism in their brand messaging. As Lands' End is discovering, you have to know your customers; if 26% of Americans think "feminist" is an insult, featuring their patron saint in an ad campaign is bound to bring down the thunder. And yet we are in a period with more single, wage-earning, empowered women than ever before, in an election season that is turning out to be all about women (hello Hillary, Bernie, Melania).
Lands' End will have to do some masterful tap dancing to extricate itself from this combination of bandwagon boorishness, poor planning, worse timing, and thoughtless response. It may already be too late. However, there's a remarkable opportunity here for their competitors. As other clothing retailers step in, it will be interesting to see what they add to the powerful conversations taking place during this election season about feminism and female empowerment.
It looks as though the Lands' End faux pas may just have solidified women's empowerment as the number one issue this election season (it was already trending that way anyway). Should be interesting to see where it goes from here.