Fashion Retailer La Maison Simons Ends Controversial Campaign

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Fashion Retailer La Maison Simons Ends Controversial Campaign
Fashion Retailer La Maison Simons Ends Controversial Campaign

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A Canadian retailer’s controversial campaign that focused on euthanasia has come to a close.

While messaging about end-of-life experiences and euthanasia aren’t routine for retailers, La Maison Simons, which is more commonly known as Simons, had gone that route with a video. On Oct. 24 the company posted on its site a video titled “All Is Beauty.” The three-minute clip was posted ia day after the terminally ill subject of it, 37-year-old Jennyfer Hatch, had taken her life.

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In the clip she made a case for what is known in Canada as “medical assistance in dying.” Hatch discussed life and death and how she was seeking beauty, nature and connection in her final days. After Simons came under fire for its campaign, the company has ended it, according to a Simons spokesman.

Hatch had reportedly been diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a group of inherited genetic disorders that affect various body parts. She appeared in the video bundled up on the beach, blowing bubbles and playing the cello while discussing her situation.

Simons chief executive officer Peter Simons, the fifth-generation executive to lead the 183-year-old Quebec-based chain, said in the press that the campaign was not a commercial one. In an interview last month with CBC News, “We really thought that after everything that we have been through in the last two years and everyone’s been through — maybe it would resonate more to do a project that’s less commercially oriented and more focused on inspiration and values that we hold dear.”

Purpose-driven marketing and messaging has become increasingly more the norm for major fashion brands and corporations. However, those efforts have predominantly been around such topics as social justice, climate change, racial and gender equality and pay equity. A 2021 study by Razorfish and Vice Media determined that 82 percent of respondents — and 75 percent of their friends — buy for a greater mission and purpose. Seventy-six percent of the respondents said they buy from brands that make the world a better place and 67 percent said the brands they buy make them a better person.

Responding on behalf of the retailer to an interview request with a Simons executive, National’s senior consultant Eric Aach, said via email Thursday that the campaign “has come to an end this week. Simons is now entering their annual holiday sprint. In this context, all of their teams’ efforts are focused on in-store and web holiday activities.”

In a subsequent exchange requesting further comment, Aach noted that, “The holiday season is an extremely busy time for Simons.”

The retailer’s site now touts such messages as “Trimmed in Tartan” fashion choices, “Festive feast” home décor and “Our home or yours.…Love gleams.”

In March of last year after the MAID bill received Royal Assent in Canada, the law no longer required that a person’s natural death to be reasonably foreseeable to access medical assistance in dying. In 2021, there were 10,644 medically assisted deaths in Canada, a tally that has grown steadily each year since 2016. There have been 31,664 MAID deaths since 2016.

If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, a list of suicide hotlines around the globe can be found at www.suicidestop.com. In addition, dialing texting or chatting 988 in the U.S. will route people to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Lifeline’s phoneline is also available to people experiencing emotional distress or suicidal crisis.

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