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DKNY’s Quick Facebook Crisis Response: PR Win?

DKNY Humans of New YorkToday our sister site AllFacebook brings us this story of very quick and (relatively) effective social media damage control on behalf of fashion giant DKNY.

In summary: Brandon Stanton is a New York-based photographer who runs the excellent Humans of New York page, where he posts his slice-of-life images of everyday New Yorkers and their fascinating outfits to more than half a million followers. Perfect content for an NY-centric fashion brand, no? DKNY agreed and approached Stanton with a promo opportunity, offering him $15,000 for 300 photos to use in store windows at locations “around the world.”

While interested, Stanton didn’t think the pay was enough and asked for more. DKNY declined but apparently decided to go through with its plan anyway–a fan sent him the featured photo of a window display at a DKNY outlet in Bangkok complete with dozens of his images, used “without [his] knowledge, and without compensation.”

Eww. Bad move.

Stanton kept things classy: Instead of suing, he told his followers that he didn’t want payback–he simply wanted DKNY to donate $100,000 on his behalf to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvestant, Brooklyn. The post inspired more than 38,000 likes and 37,000 shares, creating a (completely justified) PR problem for DKNY. The brand responded in a matter of hours, posting:

“…it appears that inadvertently the store in Bangkok used an internal mock up containing some of Mr. Stanton’s images that was intended to merely show the direction of the spring visual program. We apologize for this error and are working to ensure that only the approved artwork is used.

DKNY has always supported the arts and we deeply regret this mistake. Accordingly, we are making a charitable donation of $25,000 to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn in Mr. Stanton’s name.”

Stanton seemed satisfied with the response, posting:

‎”$25k will help a lot of kids at the YMCA. I know a lot of you would like to have seen the full $100k, but we are going to take them at their word that it was a mistake, and be happy that this one had a happy ending. Thanks so much for your support, everyone.”

We have mixed feelings about DKNY’s response. While we appreciate the brand’s donation and the acknowledgment of its “mistake”, we still feel that a multimillion dollar international fashion brand could have easily afforded to pay a little more for premium content as opposed to the material purchased from “established photography service providers”, aka stock photo agencies (and avoided this brouhaha altogether).

What do we think? Did DKNY resolve this dispute with minimal damage?

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