Community solutions to brand problems

Louis Vuitton gets Brand-Jacked, Collateral Damage in Anti-Genocide Campaign:
[Via Web Strategy by Jeremiah]

The article is not only about what happens when a brand is hijacked. It is also a great example of how a organization could use a community it created in order to help itself.

Left Image: An impoverished Darfur child is shown holding an LV-like purse, image sold as a T-shirt from artist, now being sued, see Hi-Res version.

Thanks to Søren Storm Hansen for bringing this to my attention.

It could have been your brand
It could have been Rolex, Lexus, Gucci, or even your brand, sadly for LV, it was theirs.

A 26 year old artist named Nadia Plesner has been sued by Louis Vuitton for brand jacking their famous purses in a anti-genocide campaign.

The artist was trying to make a point that the media cares more for Paris Hilton extravaganzas more than the genocide in the nation of Darfur.

Now Louis Vuitton lawyers did what they are paid to do – protect the brand. Use the law against the artist. But this will also have negative effects on the brand.

What to do? Jeremiah asks his community and they come up with some great ideas, ones that create win-win solutions and actually could help the brand.

LV has two a few options
Here’s my take, from what I can tell, Louis Vuitton (and the dog) have nothing to do with Darfur, and their brand is being dragged through the African mud. Their response is pretty standard and expected, to protect the image and brand that they’ve been working to build. I’m sympathetic to them getting brand jacked, as they’ve not done anything to occur this unwanted attention.Option 1: Continue legal path: Continue this path and settle with Nadia, given the many lawyers they have access to and resources, they will likely win a copyright infringement for the design being on another paid product.

Option 2: Join the campaign: They could drop the suit, and work with the Save Dafur organization to help raise funds by doing events, creating a specific product, or help promote the cause. This too has it’s downsides, the brand will be brought into the human rights spotlight, and if they have any dirt in this arena (perhaps oversees manufacturing) they’ll be in turn scrutinized. Secondly, this would be a nod to activitists everywhere to brand jack major brands in order to get support and funding, the cycle will continue.

Option 3: Redirect focus on issues: Submitted by John Bell. I enjoyed John’s option so much, that I’ve embedded it here on the post as an update. “What they could do is work with Nadia and other artists to host discussions about media focus. They could partner with a neutral party like my friends at to steward the conversation. Keep the discussion away from luxury brands (which is not Nadia’s point anyhow). LV can become part of teh solution without taking on the brunt of an issue they do not own.”

Option 4: Walk away: Submitted by Alison Byrne Fields: “Drop the suit. Walk away and wait for the dust to settle. This little hullabaloo will have no long term negative impact on their brand.”

Originally there were only 2 options. But the community came up with others that were better in many ways. In particular, by following the third option, LV can not only help their brand, they can extend their community and enhance their brand. It would show that they listen to their community and try to find solutions rather than pay lawyers.

The artist wants media to look at the genocide. LV could use its high profile to help do exactly this. It would not drive away their luxury market and could expand it.

A very nice example how a diverse community can propose solutions to difficult problems when Web 2.0 technologies permit online conversations to take place.

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