September 26, 2008 at 3:26 am Leave a comment

I believe that VOGUE India’s decision to feature average Indian people wearing designer clothes could have served as a very beneficial move creating a positive impact; however, Ms. Tanna’s response to the unsuspected backlash inhibited this. This call for strategic public relations was not handled correctly. She did not positively brand herself in response to this issue and it is apparent by her defensive interview responses that she had not explanation for the choice she made. Her response of, “Lighten up” and “You have to remember with fashion, you can’t take it that seriously” minimizes readers concerns and opinions about the issue. Making concerned people who question a decision you made (such as the choice to have Indian people wearing designer clothes) feel like their voice or opinion is ridiculous and not worthy is NOT a smart PR move.


She seems to contradict herself during the interview. Her response about Vogue realizing the “power of fashion” and that the shoot was saying that “fashion is no longer a rich man’s privilege. Anyone can carry it off and make it look beautiful” made me hopeful at first. I thought for a second she was on the right track to shedding a positive light on Vogue and offered that making a statement was their purpose to do the shoot. Then, however, she contradicts herself by saying, “We weren’t trying to make a political statement or save the world.”


I would have first made the people who raised unsettling feelings towards the shoot feel their concerns and opinions were valued. I would have also admitted that I could see where the confusion and anger came from after analyzing people’s perceptions of the shoot and would have said something like, “Vogue’s purpose of doing this shoot was not clearly communicated to the public.” I would have cleared the confusion by saying that, “In actuality, Vogue’s purpose for doing this shoot was to make a statement that any woman, regardless of culture or social class, can carry it off and make it look beautiful. For fashion is no longer, and should never be, regarded as a rich man’s privilege.”


If Ms. Tanna had responded in the way I suggested above, the first step for VOGUE India would be to stick with this “statement” and message they are trying to communicate. The next VOGUE India issue should feature a woman of a different culture or social class wearing a fashion item. However, this time the message should be much more carefully communicated. The feature could even include VOGUE’s purpose for the shoot somewhere on the page, stating something around the lines of “Real Fashion. Real Beauty.” This would better help to communicate the statement they are in fact, trying to make.


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