November 18, 2013
Recent comments made by Chip Wilson, Founder and Chairman of the high-end athletic apparel company, lululemon athletica, have sparked media attention—and not the good kind.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg TV, Chip Wilson faced complaints that lululemon’s expensive, high-quality pants were wearing prematurely by stating:
“Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for [the yoga pants]… It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time and how much they use it.”
Did he just blame the women who wear his company’s product as the reason for the problem?
That’s certainly what people heard, and at m+p we’re believers that “it’s not what you say that matters, it’s what they hear.”
To combat the negative media onslaught, Chip uploaded a message to lululemon’s YouTube page—notably titled “A Message” and not “An Apology.” See text of the message below:
Hello, I’m Chip Wilson. I’m the founder of lululemon athletica. I’d like to talk to you today about the last few days of media that’s occurred around the Bloomberg interview. I’m sad. I’m really sad. I’m sad for the repercussions of my actions. I’m sad for the people at lululemon who I care so much about that have really had to face the brunt of my actions. I take responsibility for all that has occurred and the impact it has had on you. I’m sorry to have put you all through this…For all of you that have made lululemon what it is today, I ask you to stay in a conversation that is above the fray. I ask you to prove that the culture that you have built cannot be chipped away. Thank you.
See the full video here.
The message, devoid of sincerity and authenticity, doesn’t apologize for what he said about women’s bodies not fitting the pants, but instead apologized for the consequences of his words, and for the effect it had on his employees and lululemon as a brand. It’s also pretty clear he’s reading from the teleprompter, resulting in more insincerity and disconnectedness in what he’s saying.
Even though he said apologetic words like “sorry,” “repercussions of my actions,” and “I take responsibility,” his message didn’t resonate with those he offended.
Chip might want to issue another apology. One that apologizes for what he said, how offensive it was to those who buy his product (and to those who don’t), and focuses less on how it effects the employees of his company. One that, quite simply, is fitting for everyone.