As many discussions continue about whether or not Dior was right to fire Galliano, and based on what I read in the media about the issue, I would say that the fashion label did the right thing to protect its reputation by firing its designer. For Dior the stakes are too high. The company was right not to take any risk with its star designer employee.
Unfortunately it seems that Dior’s press releases are not publicly available and therefore I based my findings for this blog on several media articles.
Why I find this an interesting topic is because of the leading principle that when a crisis hits a brand, it impacts the whole company and puts a company’s reputation at risk. As a result, decisions made are driven by protecting its reputation.
Impact of social media on reputation
Once more it’s clear that phone cameras and YouTube offer the possibility for consumers to instantly publish and share issues or at an inconvenient time and that the internet increases the distribution speed of negative publicity. As an employer, you don’t have control of consumers using phone cameras and posting negative messages on social media about – famous – staff members. The only one that can influence the content of any bad publicity at the time is the employee in question. He or she is the brand’s ambassador at all times and should not give anybody a reason to publish damaging content.
Manage the issue by taking back control
An employer however can manage the issue by controlling its own content and plan its communication quickly after an incident has taken place. Even though Galliano seems to have denied the allegations against him and before any court case might take place, Dior, as a business, reacted as it should have: quickly and publicly by saying that the company would not tolerate Galliano’s behaviour and therefore fired him.
Balance the images and costs involving your commercial relations
Dior is much more than couture, for which Galliano was responsible and was the face. There are other celebrities that represent parts of the Dior business, such as perfume, for which Natalie Portman is one of the faces. It seems that once the Oscar-winning actress publicly said that she did not want to be associated with Galliano, Dior balanced her statement with all the damaging press regarding Galliano. More importantly Dior decided that Natalie Portman is as important to Dior’s image as Galliano and she denounced him publicly.
Brands are not immune to misconduct
The individual John Galliano might have forgotten for a second that he is also a celebrity, employed by the Dior Company and a famous brand himself. It is unfortunately not possible for him to be just John Galliano. A CEO, CFO or a star designer’s behaviour always has an impact, whether he is at work or out in a bar, whether it’s positive or negative. That’s the flip coin of being famous.
In case of a good designer like Galliano, to see how much damage his misconduct has done to his good name and his trading name (owned by Dior), depends on the ruling of the court case and then how he, the public, the fashion business and the opinion leaders will react. It usually takes time to restore a reputation.