In the modern digital age, it can take virtually no time for news and comments to travel around the world. This can be a major benefit when it comes to the rapid circulation of information. Unfortunately, it has the potential to lead to the rapid escalation of controversy, as well.


This was the case recently for fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, whose negative comments regarding gay couples adopting children and families using IVF to conceive were quick to spark backlash against the Dolce & Gabbana brand.


In an interview with Italy’s Panorama magazine, the designers expressed their opposition to both of the aforementioned modern familial structures, suggesting that same-sex parents go against legitimate traditional families and calling children conceived from in-vitro fertilization “synthetic.”


Sir Elton John shared his anger over Dolce and Gabbana's comments about gay parents and IVF on Instagram (

Sir Elton John shared his anger over Dolce and Gabbana’s comments about gay parents and IVF on Instagram (

The backlash ultimately grew into a full-blown movement to boycott the brand entirely, with #BoycottDolceGabbana becoming a trending topic on Twitter. Consumers used the hashtag to express their decisions to ditch the designer label.


This entire incident is the perfect example of how the statements made by individuals who represent a brand contribute tremendously to overall brand image, be it in a negative or positive manner. Clinical professor of marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Scott Galloway, commented on the crisis: “it’s brain-dead to start making comments like this on behalf of a brand.”


Of course, Dolce and Gabbana did not actually make these comments on behalf of their brand; they were simply reflecting their own personal opinions. But with such a high profile name and brand of the same namesake, does it matter if the comments were personal?


The reality is that the comments and actions of individuals associated with a brand — such as the founder of the brand, a brand ambassador, etc. — become unavoidably intertwined with brand image and reputation, regardless of whether or not they are made on behalf of the brand.


It may be unrealistic and unfair to expect such individuals to calculate every move they make or to filter their opinions according to potential backlash. However, it is also essential for these individuals to be aware of the gravity of their statements. Brand ambassadors, no matter how high-profile they are within a company, must determine their actions and comments based on the margin of risk they are willing to take when it comes to their brands.


Do you think that this controversy and the subsequent movement to boycott Dolce & Gabbana will have a serious impact on the brand moving forward? Share your thoughts below or tweet me @tamarahoumi