- Posted August 10, 2013 by
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Oprah's Story: Is the unrecognized casual woman walking into your story a candidate for *your* upscale $37,000 product?
And yes, I deliberated used the word 'story' instead of 'store' because WOW. The Switzerland store (Trois Pommes) that refused to allow Oprah Winfrey a closer peek at a 37K bag is one of *the* most popular social media stories out there.
The entire world and their WWF coffeecups are weighing in:
CNN Money: Oprah Winfrey racism row over Switzerland shop incident
Bloomberg: Swiss Shop Owner Denies Racist Oprah Slur Over $38,000 Bag
NY Times: Oprah Winfrey and the Handbag She Couldn’t Have (film at 11!)
Wall Street Journal: Oprah Gets Apology After Swiss Store Fails To Realize She’s Rich
MSNBC: All In agenda: Refusing billionaire Oprah Winfrey’s business
Basically, the story goes:
Oprah enters Switzerland store. She is not recognized as Oprah.
Oprah asks 3 times to see a 37K bag.
Oprah is refused 3 times because the clerk assumed "she could not afford it".
Given the fact Oprah's net worth is more than 2.8 billion dollars, yep. A wee bit of incorrectness was definitely assumed.
I'll leave it to the various/sundry media/blogs/outlet to debate the racism card.
For my report, I'd like to focus on just how Facebook Social Media is treating this Oprah incident.
Let's look at Facebook first.
Check out the hastag for #Oprah:
Just...notice all of the commentary. Comments like:
Can you believe this crap? If I were #Oprah I'd buy the store and tear it down.... #spite
WTF? Would you like some racism with that Tom Ford handbag? Can't#Oprah shop in peace? I can't believe this! PIC
Alex McCord's post on Sulia
Last month, Tina Turner got married in Switzerland and had a big blow-up party. Oprah attended, and while she was ...
But let's dig a bit deeper here as well:
"k, the crude woman in Zurich Switzerland who told @Oprah that she could not see a $38,000 bag because #Oprah "couldn't afford it" must live under a rock and is unaware that Ms O has a net with of 3 BILLION dollars and counting. She is the first and only self made black female billionaire in the world.
From my own personal experience I once had a high end store clerk refuse to show me a pair of shoes because "I couldn't afford them." We'll I was not as gracious as Ms. Winfrey who kindly said to the sales lady, you know, you are probably right, I can't afford it and quietly left the store.
However, in my situation I quickly pulled out my Black Amex card, showed it to the sales lady and asked to speak to her boss. That particular lady is no longer employed at the store, and I bought the shoes from her boss, left a nice tip and said you will never see my face or my money in this store again and quietly left.
My point here is not about how much money you have or do not have. The point is that everyone deserves the same courtesy, the same customer service, the same respect, regardless of your skin color, nationality, sexual orientation, wealth, or lack thereof." MORE
Oprah was no Victim of Racism ,only a Victim of her own Delusion to be a Member of the "Elite". #Oprah #twittfound MORE
Oprah, I'm sorry you had a bad shopping experience in Switzerland -- racism is awful and needs to challenged --but let's "KEEP IT REAL!" The real problem with your handbag incident is that THERE'S A PURSE THAT COSTS FORTY-F**KING-THOUSAND DOLLARS which is MORE THAN THE YEARLY INCOME OF OVER 99% OF THE PEOPLE ON EARTH!
#OPRAH #OPRAHHANDBAG #DOESTHISCOMEINBLACK MORE
Thus, the hashtag in Facebook now pulls together *every* tagged Oprah comment. Let's look at it from a Facebook user's point of view:
You can bet that smart news organizations are following this hashtag, so this is a perfect opportunity to get on their radar with *your* personal take.
I'm personally waiting for the grassroots Facebook Fanpage to pop up.
But! Let's now look at this from a reputation management point of view.
You see, not only did the store owner apologize to Oprah Winfrey, but the entire country did as well:
Washington Post: Switzerland apologizes after Oprah says clerk at store treated her in racist manner
Huffington Post: Oprah's Encounter With Racism Results In Apology From Swiss Tourism Office
Vanity Fair: Switzerland Apologizes to Oprah for Treating Her Like a Pre-makeover Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman
Just *how* do you think that store owner can handle this?
Marketwatch reported the store owner's reaction:
...The Swiss tourism office has since issued an apology, and shop owner Trudie Goetz spoke Friday to Reuters, saying that the sales assistant had wanted to show Winfrey other versions of the Tom Ford bag, but that the result was “an absolute classic misunderstanding.”
“This has nothing to do with racism,” Goetz reportedly told Reuters. “I am here for everyone, and the customer is king.”
(Writing in the Guardian, Heidi Moore argues that Winfrey likely faced size-based bias alongside the racial variety. “Race,” she writes, “is tied with socioeconomic status struggles; so is weight.” Moore also puts the bag’s value at $42,000.)
Winfrey made an estimated $77 million between June 2012 and June 2013 and was named the most powerful celebrity on Forbes’s annual “Celebrity 100” list....MORE
If this isn't a case that cries for quick Brand Reputation Management redressing...I do not know what is.
It's obvious that anything that touches on deeply personal values (racism, gender equality, lifestyle, health, etc.) will quickly mushroom into a social media unconscious event. In other words, it will either become a social media dream or in this case...the ultimate social media nightmare.
I'm now waiting for the major media sites to use this as a learning experience for their readers...and showcase their take on how to tame this particular social media Tale from Heck.
Who do you think will be first?