Barneys New York: A Case of “Shop and Frisk”
In late 2013, Barneys New York quickly found itself amidst scandal. Within the span of a few days, Barneys CEO Mark Lee’s attention shifted from ensuring record-breaking holiday sales to a lawsuit, an Attorney General’s investigation, a potential boycott, and his company’s biggest holiday contract hanging in the balance. News media and political activists labeled Barneys a racist brand, and Lee needed to find a way to regain the trust of customers and the public at large.
- To illustrate how quickly the public will ascribe blame to a company, even over unproven allegations
- To provide an example of a company’s struggle to prevent a significant source of revenue loss while staying committed to fairness, equality, and customer service
- To illustrate the need for a proactive public relations strategy that can effectively guide the public discourse that follows a crisis
- To encourage discussion of social media as a means of corporate communication and the pros and cons associated with its use
- To demonstrate how a company might work collaboratively with interest groups to formulate an agreeable solution