#Kohlsfail…Ghetto fab or racial and plain ignorance in all its virtual splendor?

I was perusing my Facebook page when I noticed I had been tagged in a photo. The photo was of a white girl wearing a curly afro wig. Oh. Kay…wasn’t too sure why I was tagged but hey, you know how those crazy FBers are. But when I took a closer look I saw it was an ad for Kohl’s Department Store with the flagrantly offensive words, ‘Ghetto Fab Wig.” Instantly I tried to come up with a justifiable reason anyone in Kohl’s corporate marketing department would think that this product with such a provocative title would be appropriate to place online and market. I mean granted this is the season for license of the spooky and zany, but how this one fit is still a puzzle.

The outrage soon hit as comment after comment came in like a torrent rain ordering everyone to call the corporate headquarters. And many did. However, the reps who answered would either connect you to a voice recording or give an abrasive response. Not a good look. So I did my own background search for a human connection. I found Vicki Shamion, Vice President of Public Relations. Yet, when I dialed her number, (262) 703-1464, It went straight to voicemail. I did leave a message, not as coherent nor as professional as I would have liked, but left a number for a response. I’m still waiting to hear back.

Nonetheless, I knew the outrage could not stop with a dial tone. The ad was online and in public and that is where we’d have to ask for answers, and some repudiating measures. So I took the matter over to my Twitter network. I tweeted the info, and searched for a related hashtag like #kohlsfail, but saw nothing. Surely, I wasn’t the only one who saw this. A more thorough search uncovered that folks were indeed outraged and on the case a full hour before. The #naturalhair community was picking this ‘fro apart and @Kohls_official was getting it. Eventually, they sent out some corporate responses like this one they sent me

Well, I am kind of a big deal to myself, and besides, when I shop with them it has been a distinct and unique choice, so a more personal reply to me would have been my preference. I am not one who has suddenly given instant wrath to this company. I shop at Kohl’s and signed up for email alerts from them. I “Like” them on Facebook; Purchase my children’s winter coats and thermals from there. Heck I even rush out for their Black Friday deals. So I think I deserve some explanation for this “situation.”

That explanation has not been given in almost 8 hours. What they did offer to the outraged twitter community was to pull the wig from their exclusive online shop. They have done so. However, as late as 8:30 CST the picture remained. Ironically, the picture image had been altered to a picture of a more fair-skinned woman sporting a blonde “Ghetto Fab wig” which still appears with the offensive title, and a note that reads “We’re sorry. This item is no longer available.”

It just won’t do. In fact, a Boycott_Kohls Twitter handle has been created. It has 24 followers at time of this blog. Not sure where that will lead, but I’m following to see.

Is Boycott the right measure? Is there more to this than removing the wig from the online store. I believe this is a complex issue with many layers that needs dissecting and fully explored. This teachable moment has to extend beyond a mere case study for another SM panel discussion.

I’m more than a little perturbed over this “situation.” But I’ll have to share more in Part II.
Hope you read and share your thoughts:)

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Outraged consumers found the wig’s name flagrantly offensive, a failed attempt at creative marketing. Social networks exploded with comments and blogs on the situation. […]


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