On Wednesday, Old Navy was trending on Twitter and Facebook, as well as overtaking a previously unrelated hashtag: #lovewins. And the retailer didn’t have to do much to earn it — the brand just stood by its April 29 ad depicting a happy, beautiful interracial couple with a cute kid. This, despite Internet hate bringing back anachronistic language like “miscegenation.”
Usually, Target Marketing’s advice when brands encounter consumer backlash is to respond to it and often apologize and explain the steps the company’s taking to right the wrongs. But in the case of overt racism, Gap’s Old Navy brand appears to have taken exactly the correct marketing approach. And there’s another bonus: Social media’s now packed full of pictures of cute kids.
The original tweet:
— Old Navy Official (@OldNavy) April 29, 2016
In this second tweet, Old Navy links to an article published on Tuesday by Today Style: "We are a brand with a proud history of championing diversity and inclusion. At Old Navy, everyone is welcome," [Old Navy] told TODAY.
Love from our family to yours https://t.co/qIOQDEaMXW
— Old Navy Official (@OldNavy) May 4, 2016
A couple of the supportive tweets:
— Jack McCain (@McCainJack) May 2, 2016
— Vanessa P (@MrsVanessaP) May 4, 2016
— Kia Birdsong (@Feng_Tweet) May 1, 2016
Here’s another look at what Old Navy appears to have done right:
Mobilizing Brand Advocates
While Old Navy didn't need to do much to get the word out, the brand did make its advocates aware of what was happening via the tweet and commenting in news articles. (Although this Fortune article does mention a recent controversy in a Gap ad, which critics said depicted a black girl as an armrest.) Old Navy's advocates took it from there, making the brand trend on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and elsewhere.
— Catherine (@_myedenlife) May 3, 2016
Similarly, a pharmaceutical manufacturer urged brand advocates to help it stave off a hostile takeover with #perrigopride.
— Brady Madden (@bmadden12) November 13, 2015
— Perrigo Careers (@PerrigoCareers) November 13, 2015
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