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Making lemonade from Lululemon leadership lemons

Posted by Chad O'Connor  July 2, 2013 11:00 AM

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A change in executive leadership at a corporation is always a fragile period, often cloaked in secrecy. It’s an especially sensitive time if the company is also grappling with others issues, like product quality or financial problems.

That’s precisely the issue that the popular yoga apparel marketer Lululemon Athletica is dealing with after the firm’s CEO resigned unexpectedly. Christine Day’s resignation comes in the wake of trouble for the company earlier this year, when Lululemon was forced to recall yoga pants after customers discovered that they were actually see-through.

Immediately after resigning, the company’s stock price dropped.

But in the days following the bombshell news, the company changed the conversation, by casting a positive, or at least a humorous light on a serious situation.

After Day made her announcement, Lululemon posted this tongue-in-cheek fake CEO job listing. One tidbit from the job description:

“You report to no one, you are the CEO (duh). You are passionate about doing chief executive officer type stuff like making decisions, having a vision and being the head boss person."

According to CNN, they’ve gotten over 160 responses, and generated tons of media coverage.

The company also penned a Facebook post saying, “CEO wanted… any ideas.” The post opened up the conversation to the brands fans, who have shared the post 399 times and posted close to 500 comments.

Although the Facebook post opened up the brand to criticism about a perceived drop in product quality, the post was a clever marketing move – it showed that the company, even during a time of turmoil, can poke fun at itself, and at the same time listen to its customers. Brands, especially those undergoing an identity crisis, need to prove they’re listening to customers during this age of social media. Indeed you don’t have to look too far to find evidence that angry customer tweets or Facebook posts can do real damage to a company.

But by getting a little bit creative and transparent, Lululemon dulled the negative publicity and can now focus on finding an excellent new CEO.

Andrew Graham is President & CEO of The Forum Corp.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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