Gini Dietrich

Claire’s Rips Off Tatty Devine and Sticks Head In Proverbial Sand

By: Gini Dietrich | February 29, 2012 | 

Oh come on! Seriously. Why is this so hard?

Yes, there is another company shutting down comments to their Facebook wall, ignoring tweets, deleting comments, and going silent.

This time it’s Claire’s Stores, who is accused of ripping off independent jewelry designer, Tatty Devine.

Last week the U.K. designer blogged, “Can You Spot the Difference?” and showed their designs next to images of the Claire’s mass-produced jewelry.

Looks pretty darn similar to me. And Tatty Devin loyalists thought so, too, taking to Twitter to tweet irate messages to @clairesstores.

But there is nothing from Claire’s, who is updating Facebook as if nothing is going on. Their post from yesterday?

Not only are they pretending like nothing is happening, they’ve closed the ability for anyone to comment on their wall or tag them in status updates.

As well, they’ve deleted any criticisms, according to Aisling Cahill, who twice commented and twice had it removed.

A quick look at their Twitter stream from last week shows they’re tweeting as if nothing is happening.

But my favorite? The editor from BusinessZone, a U.K. online publication with 400,000 visitors per month, has tried to get in touch with the company, to no avail. He even tried posting to their Facebook wall (and wasn’t deleted), but there has been no answer.

If you’re going to pretend social media is a joke or a fad or for the kids and doesn’t matter to your business growth, I suppose that’s your right. But to ignore journalists for days? That breaks every crisis PR 101 rule.

Every, single one.

I know everyone who reads Spin Sucks gets it. None of you work for these companies nor would you ever advise they stick their heads in the sand and wait for it all to blow over.

So how do we get the PR professionals advising companies, such as Claire’s and Carnival, to read Spin Sucks? They clearly need it. Badly.

Because, right now, I’m preaching to the choir.


About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • salidatious

    This is an interesting post – but I wonder – if you were in Claire’s shoes (so to speak) would would you do about it? What would you be saying too the comments both positive and negative?

    • ginidietrich

       @salidatious There are two words that work phenomenally well: I’m sorry. If they were a client, I would have them do exactly that. We are so sorry. We’re working with Tatty Devine and our product development to see what kind of solution we can find. And just keep saying that over and over and over again.

      • fionabellpr

        A couple of possible scenarios:
        1. They are not sorry. What about:  “We vehemently disagree with the allegations and stand behind our original, proprietary creative design process. Our legal team has contacted Tatty Devine about these accusations. We look forward to providing you an update when we can.” Might make them look worse, but if they truly believed they didn’t rip anybody off, they would be acknowledging the issue and standing up for their reputation.
        2. The story ran and, being a big company, they didn’t immediately know whether they were in the wrong. Or they knew they are in the wrong but there was no way their lawyers would let them come out with an “I’m sorry” note. They could have said something like “We take the claims made about our creative design process very seriously. We have a tremendous amount of respect for independent designers and their contributions to fashion. Through internal meetings at the highest level of the company, we are working to immediately identify a resolution to this issue. We look forward to updating you when we can.”

  • Seriously. Companies need to have a crisis plan in place as one of the check box items before open social channels. Clearly, as you state, they don’t have one – at all.

    • ginidietrich

       @TedWeismann It’s so exasperating to me. These are big companies. Companies that know better. Surely they have offline crisis management plans in play. Why do they ignore the online world?

  • I bet they’ll start paying attention when the lawyers get in touch.

    •  @Shonali Wonder if that’s what they’re waiting on, the bureaucratic red tape b.s., the lawyers to tell them all they can/can’t say?

      • ginidietrich

         @3HatsComm  @Shonali I’d be willing to bet the lawyers said they couldn’t say anything. That’s why a crisis plan is so important. But you both know that. I’m preaching to the choir.

  • Busted! Funny this doesn’t happen to ad agencies when they steal.
    There is a whole website dedicated to this thank you dabitch luckthelady
    As for the Claire’s I guess aside from the horrible social media handling. If the designs are not IP protected they are fair game. And they should just say ‘Yes the idea was theirs but ours is better’.
    This is why at Industrial Trade Shows that show parts with cutaways whenever Chinese visitors come buy they all get hidden. They will just look at the internals of a valve in 4 weeks later will be selling it to your customers at half the price (and half the quality usually).

    •  @HowieSPM  When I worked in manufacturing we got into a battle with a few companies regarding the name of two of our “machines” which were both named after animals.
      I had a brief discussion with the other sides marketing team and they acknowledged that they knew they couldn’t lay claim to an animal but they also knew that if they had deeper pockets they could bleed us.
      Sure enough the lawyers got involved and…

    •  @HowieSPM I wonder.. if they are ‘legally’ if not ethically allowed to steal other designs, then IDK. It is very crappy to steal someone else’s work, someone else’s idea and designs. But at the same time, if this is sorta their unethical-somehow-legal business model then.. I kinda agree w/ your ‘it’s a copy, we think it’s better’ stand. 
      Back to my fashion example – not talking frauds like fake Coach and Prada bags – but ‘runway’ design gets copied and tweaked, then down to this store, then down a notch under this label to Macy’s, then to a discounter and so on. There have been times, I’ve liked the knock-off better; not only was it cheaper, they actually made it ‘better.’ FWIW.

      •  @3HatsComm I wondered the same thing. Where do you think Target gets all of their designs? Inspired by the runway in Paris of course. 
        And @HowieSPM I didn’t get arrested when I was made to do a “Got snow?” ad campaign for an unnamed ski resort.  But I was thinking I should have turned myself in. 

        • ginidietrich

           @Lisa Gerber  @3HatsComm  I think the difference with Target, though, is they work with the runway designers to create a mass-produced design. Regardless of the business practice, the issue is the blatant silence about the issue, but “communicating” as if nothing is going on.

        •  @ginidietrich  @Lisa Gerber  @3HatsComm I agree on the ethics vs legal. And the originator should be able to use this to their advantage.

    • ginidietrich

       @HowieSPM  I have no expertise on whether or not it’s OK to “steal” designs that way, but the way they’re ignoring everyone is killing me!

      •  @ginidietrich I can’t  hear you see you or feel you. Do you exist?

  • Tatty Devine? Sorry  I am stuck on the name of the designer. It is the juvenile part of me. If I was Claires I’d start tweeting about how their costume jewelry is bullet proof, fireproof and serves as a floating device that people who take cruises can use.

    •  @TheJackB GOOD ONE!!! That’s twice this week you made me laugh out loud. 🙂

    • ginidietrich

       @TheJackB LOL! Sigh…

    • belllindsay

       @TheJackB I would really like one of those dinosaur necklaces, and a fishbone one. I love fishbone imagery. And Fishbone! 🙂 

      •  @belllindsay Are you sure you didn’t go to high school with me.

        • belllindsay

           @TheJackB HA! Love it! Been a fan for years, saw them in TO about a hundred years ago. No one I know even knows who they *are*!! p.s.: I’m not old enough to have gone to HS with you. 😉 

        •  @belllindsay A thousand years ago when I was  a wee lad and used to travel periodically with my youth group we would be snobby kids from LA and talk about Fishbone, Oingo Boingo and a few other bands that hadn’t gained notoriety elsewhere.
          We told everyone that they would be big. Oy, we were obnoxious.

  • Maybe we should give each bad PR professional one of those dinosaur necklaces to wear so everyone knows they are a fossil.

    • ginidietrich

       @JayDolan THAT is a brilliant idea!

  • Every time I read about a case like this, I think: “Shouldn’t Company C have learned from Company A and B’s social media fiascoes? How do they not understand this is a terrible idea?” But no, somehow they don’t. It’s only natural that Claire’s would be freaked out about this, but there are better ways to handle it than ignoring comments and pretending the issue doesn’t exist. Even a simple “We’re working on this and we’ll keep you posted” would be better than nothing!
    Preaching to the choir, indeed. Let’s start a petition to make Spin Sucks required reading! 😉

    • @Jill Tooley Did you miss the official memo, Jill? Spin Sucks already IS required reading 🙂

      •  @SociallyGenius  Haha, only for the cool kids, apparently! 😉

        • ginidietrich

           @Jill Tooley  @SociallyGenius Yeah…only for the cool kids who know what they’re doing.

    • ginidietrich

       @Jill Tooley It is KILLING ME! You’d think they’d learn. There are so many case studies on what not to do. Even if you’re in over your head, how about doing a Google search and spending an hour educating yourself on what you should be doing?

  • Hmmm, let me play devil’s advocate. Yes, it appears they copied, however,it is a dinosaur and if you do a simple Google search such as I did here,
    one would have to ask who copied whom since that necklace is there just going left to right instead of right to left. So, it would seem if anyone could get sued, it could be Tiffany herself since clearly the idea was not original. 
    As to answering the journalist, Claire’s should do that, but that does not mean they have to open their stream to people to be jerks to them when clearly they didn’t copy her work.

    • @delwilliams Not sure that I agree there. Not responding to those so-called jerks is tantamount to an admission of guilt and further fuels the fire. If they had even a competent #SM PR strategy that attempted to quell the inferno, Gini wouldn’t have to blog about this fiasco. I’m not sure that the debate is so much about whether the copied a design as it is about how they’re handling the complaints about it.

    • ginidietrich

       @delwilliams My issue is not around whether or not they copied. Nor is it my expertise. There are very few new thoughts in the world so I can’t comment on that. What I have an issue with is their blatant disregard for anyone communicating with them. The whole “we’re going to keep talking, but it’s going to be what we want to talk about.”

  • Awww man, commenting this late in the day makes me feel like when I slept in for class and was written up as Tatty, err I mean Tardy.

    Here’s what we’re going to do – along the lines of what @TheJackB mentioned we should do to Carnival, we’re going to create a site the Social Media Graveyard. We’ll list the casualties already in the Cemetery, mostly people like Anthony Weiner and other moron who tweet out their junk or say stupid stuff to get fired b/c of Social Media. Then we’ll have a section for numbskull businesses still at the morgue or on life support for their social media ignorance. We’ll collect all the grievences against them and have @HowieSPM , with a camera crew, hand deliver each one printed on a lil tombstone to their Corp HQ and ask them what their thoughts are. It would be must-see youtube action

    • ginidietrich

       @SociallyGenius  You’re so smart! I knew I kept you around for a reason. 

      • @ginidietrich You’ve been quite busy today, eh? By smart you mean that we’re rolling with it, right?

        •  @SociallyGenius  @ginidietrich smart people don’t mix their peanutbutter with their chocolate. Just saying.

    • belllindsay

       @SociallyGenius  @TheJackB  @HowieSPM Oh. My. God. I am *SO* in!!!! I’ll produce!!! 🙂 

  • It’s crazy, but I think we’re all guilty at times of using the process of ignoring the feedback we’re getting from our mistakes and hoping that process makes them go away nicely. In a digital age, that’s just not the case. Ignore these market voices at your own peril.
    Today, you need a online reputation response plan, without it, you’re toast..

    • ginidietrich

       @Michael Besson I don’t know if I’m paying closer attention now or if there really are more companies slaughtering themselves on the social web, but I really feel like an online reputation response plan is insurance. Without you, you’re going to be toast.

  • rjfrasca

    @ginidietrich Seriously though, Boner’s BBQ makes this Claire’s incident look like great customer service.

  • rjfrasca

    @ginidietrich Also, the leg on Claire’s piece is TOTALLY at a 10 degree different ankle. I think its a fluke 😉

  • britt_thomas

    I went to Tatty Devine’s site and was pleased to see this:
    “UPDATED Wednesday 29th February: Claire’s Accessories’ lawyers wrote to us today to say that the dinosaur necklace, fishbone necklace and banana necklace have now been removed from sale. They are not admitting that these designs are infringements, and they have not withdrawn all designs. We are taking legal advice on their letter, but we are pleased to have a response and that these three items have been withdrawn from sale.”
    It’s amazing how much forthcoming they are with information reading their site than Claire’s is.

    • ginidietrich

       @britt_thomas Fascinating! It’s good to read that. Which means they’re listening. But how about, “We’re sorry for this and we’re working to fix it”?? That doesn’t admit any guilt, but communicates to the thousands of people who are tweeting and Facebooking them. I’m sorry goes such a long way.

      •  @ginidietrich  @britt_thomas I am designing my own Dinosaur necklace but with Triceratops my favorite dinosaur,

  • rjfrasca

    @ginidietrich sigh… “angle” not “ankle” This new microscopic mac keyboard is killing me…

  • CamoExpendable

    @jamiemorgancda hate how peeps and businesses that have never tweeted, treat Twitter.

  • Without knowing the legalities – what’s protected by whom – I can say this: I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen the exact same dress in different stores: different colors, different ‘brand’ labels but identical. Discounters copy and sell; Claire’s has been busted but clearly didn’t expect to get caught? Didn’t have a plan for being called out? IDK but they also got caught with their social media and communications strategies down.
    “Stick head in sand” is not an option these days – tweeted that the other day. There are rare times when ‘no comment’ can work but this ain’t one of them – certainly not when reporters are calling, not when you’ve opened the door via social media. Adding this to my growing collection of ‘to delete is to err’ posts. FWIW.

    • ginidietrich

       @3HatsComm This stuff is so frustrating. SO FRUSTRATING!

  • StephanieMcB

    @ginidietrich Great example for online class post on ethics/crises com. To think I spent so much $$ there when daughter was a teen!

    • ginidietrich

      @StephanieMcB LOL! I think we’ve all spent a ton of money there

  • NancyCawleyJean

    @ginidietrich love how much passion comes out in your post!!

    • ginidietrich

      @NancyCawleyJean I’m so frustrated!

  • ginidietrich

    @LaurianaZ It certainly will be interesting to see how it affects them

  • I hate copyright infringement!  It makes me fussy.  Perhaps I’m more sensitive because I also sell stock photographs.  Stock photographers make very little per sale, so when we see a work of someone we know, we happily pass along that information to the photographer.  In most cases the image was purchased and all is well.
    Of course, when it isn’t, it is very frustrating.  We often make less than a dollar on a sale and so it could be argued that the damage when it is stolen is minimal, but I want to know why the person who stole it, couldn’t pony up the five bucks to buy the image, so that their blog looks a bit more lively?
    I am not perfect and back in the day I used Napster and didn’t think anything about it, but I’m older and wiser now.  If I make a video, I pay for royalty free music, use my own images, and if someone has something I wish to include, then I contact them to get permission. 
    I hope that Claire’s suffers greatly.
    Whew, all that angst has made me hungry.  I think I’ll make a sandwich* with some bacon* on it.
     *Sandwich was named for John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, and should be given credit for my lunch.  I have no idea if Keven Bacon needs to be contacted with regards to my cured meat choice, or not, but I’ll look into it.
    Even when I am angry, I can’t help but put on my silly pants. It is who I am.

  • Erin_Boudreau

    @crozzledhearts Ugh, they way they are handling that is infuriating!

    • crozzledhearts

      @Erin_Boudreau Agreed. It’s worse to do this than to just own up to what they did.

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  • @ginidietrich  @3HatsComm I 100% agree with u