Valentino Makes Egregious Marketing Mistake Using Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Funeral

Don’t get us wrong, content marketing is all about creating custom copy using unique sources, and that includes real-life events, but we don’t think the team at Italian fashion house Valentino fully understood this concept.

A wide array of A-list celebrities emerged to pay their last respects to award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman at his funeral on February 7—American Hustle star Amy Adams being one of them. However, Valentino was quick to play up the fact that Adams was toting its Garavani Rockstud Double bag, going so far as to specifically highlight the fact in a recent press release sent out.

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“We are pleased to announce Amy Adams carrying the Valentino Garavany Rockstud Duble [sic] bag from the Spring/Summer 2014 collection on Feb. 6 in New York,” Valentino rep Upasna Khosla e-mailed to journalists and bloggers.

Many people who received the PR stepped out to reprimand Valentino for the blatantly tacky marketing move, which brought about an official apology from Valentino spokeswoman Mona Swanson, who said:

We sincerely regret releasing a photo to the media this morning of Amy Adams with a Valentino Bag. We were not aware the photograph was taken while she was attending the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman. It was an innocent mistake and we apologize to Ms. Adams who was not aware, or a part of, our PR efforts.

Many people would argue, however, that the fashion industry has long been one of no remorse. The L.A. Times even explains that “this is the industry that gave us ‘heroin chic,’ the aesthetic that implicitly celebrated addition…”

But does that give Valentino any viable reason to capitalize on a time of mourning and grief felt by so many? The answer is unquestionably no: This doesn’t give Valentino any reason to overlook a world-renowned actor’s untimely and tragic passing to use it as a PR opportunity.

Adams’ rep also stepped out to clarify that the Oscar nominee “is not a paid spokesperson for Valentino, and the suggestion she would use this moment to participate in a promotion is truly appalling.”

I think it’s safe to say that no top-tips or best practice suggestions are needed for marketers in this situation. The error is without question egregious. This poor marketing decision should also be sharing a very implicit lesson about how to properly build one’s brand strategy. This kind of move will bolster brand awareness in the worst kind of way.

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