Latest Hashtag Trouble: Lane Bryant


You never know what you'll get on Twitter with a hashtag campaign. Lane Bryant's CMO Brian Beitler tried to engage customers with #AskLaneBryant, but he got a lot of tough comments. PR Daily captured many of them and complimented some of the company's approach: 

To the brand's credit, Beitler addressed several concerns during the hour, and the brand's account tweeted its thanks for the "candidness" from chat participants.

Several comments criticize the plus-size retailer for product, model, and associate choices. Although some tweets were "snarky," as PR Daily calls them, Beitler could have been bolder in tackling some of them. 

One of the more challenging tweets referenced a study published in the journal Social Problems. Here are the tweet and article abstract

Social Problems

Drawing on participant observation at a women's plus-size clothing store, "Real Style," this article draws on the unique experiences of plus-sized women in their roles as workers, managers, and customers, to examine how mainstream beauty standards, body-accepting branding, and customers' diverse feeling rules shape service interactions. Despite branding that promoted prideful appreciation for "Real" bodies, the influence of these body-accepting discourses was constrained by women's internalization of mainstream fat stigma, resulting in an environment characterized by deep ambivalence toward larger body size. This ambivalence allowed hierarchies between women to be reified, rather than dissolved; although plus-sized employees and customers expressed gratitude to have Real Style as a "safe space" to work and shop, workers experienced gender segregation of jobs, and thinner employees were privileged with special tasks. Further, managers and white (but not black or Latina) customers used body-disparaging "fat talk" to elicit workers' emotional labor while confronting thinner workers for defying aesthetic expectations. This research offers a more nuanced understanding of the ties between aesthetic labor and emotional labor, while highlighting some of the factors that prevent stigmatized groups from successfully reclaiming status within consumer contexts.

Image source.

Discussion Starters: 

  • Read PR Daily's compilation of tweets. To which do you think the company should have responded?
  • How should Beitler have responded to the reference to the journal article.
  • Once again, should companies just avoid a branded Twitter hashtag? Discuss the value and the downsides.