Thursday, February 28, 2013

Much Ado About A Shoe

This is a story about a crisis that few could have anticipated and planned for. At the Institute for Crisis Management, we refer to these as perceptual crises -- problems that become crises only because someone makes them crises.

That's my read of what's going on with Skechers shoes. Skechers has released a new line of wedge, high-top sneakers for teen girls. It is called Daddy$ Money. The tagline is "Get spoiled with Daddy’s Money, ultra-cool shoes that will put you in the spotlight with a dose of swag and a 2’’ hidden wedge."  (https://www.facebook.com/DaddysMoney#!/DaddysMoney/info)
 
The company's homepage is a series of slides depicting what we called in school the Cool Kids. You can advance through the pictures by clicking on dollar signs to the cha-ching of a cash register. (http://www.daddysmoney.com/) The shoes have names such as Gimme Starry Skies, Gimme Wicked, and Gimme Kisses, which is covered with various shades of puckered lips. (http://www.daddysmoney.com/blog?ccm_paging_p_b382=2)
 
The shoes, or more exactly the ads for those shoes, are causing a rumble in cyberspace among people who enjoy being shaken and stirred by an issue of the month. A blog called Rants from Mommyland is one indignant site. The author couldn't believe the ad she saw with her nine-year-old daughter during a cable movie. See it at  http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7AgE/daddys-money-secret-wedges-extreme-height.
 
Her objections include:
  • "Girls, don't work for the things you want. No no no. Instead, put on tiny shorts and a belly shirt and go ask 'Daddy' for some money.
  • This product is being marketing towards teens primarily (the spot is mostly shown on MTV). That's terrible.
  • But it's also being marketed to elementary-aged girls and that's worse.
  • This product can't be good for girls or teens. A 2 inch heel? How can that be healthy for growing bodies or safe for them to wear for any extended period of time?
  • Injuries? Yes. Back and leg pain? Yes. And those things lead to a subsequent decline in the ability to focus on school or participate in sports or physical activities.
  • You're not good enough the way you are - buy a product to fix that."  (http://www.rantsfrommommyland.com/2013/02/am-i-crazy-dont-answer-that.html)
I'm lucky, I guess, to have so much more to worry about than how shoes are being marketed to 13-year olds.

But don't think I'm pooh-poohing this as a crisis, just because I don't think Satan is attacking our children with shoes. It's still a crisis and Skechers ignores it at its own peril. Perhaps a telling comment is still viewable as of this morning on Facebook: "Classy act, Skechers - now everyone's negative comments about your Daddy$ Money line are hidden or deleted. How about you address the issue instead of hiding from it?"

Another comment contains less sarcasm and more anger. "Your company should be sued. I hope all your vendors shut their doors in your face. I hope you all go broke." (https://www.facebook.com/DaddysMoney)

Skechers needs a strategy to address backlash against Daddy$ Money. In the end, Daddy's money (lower case m) becomes Sketchers' money if all goes well for the product line. These shoes have the staying power of go-go boots in the '60s and Earth Shoes in the '70s. No girl will be caught dead in these shoes in three years.

Skechers has to react quickly and effectively to maximize earnings from a product that will be a short-lived fad at best. Plus people who think Daddy$ Money is a product of the devil should move on. There are so many threats to our young people than high-top wedges.

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