DKNY Responds Quickly, Decisively To Facebook Crisis

By David Cohen 

Most brands will likely encounter some sort of social media crisis at some point. The key is to react swiftly and remedy the situation, which is exactly what fashion brand DKNY did Monday.

Brandon Stanton, a photographer who is behind Tumblr art project Humans of New York, posted a photograph of his work being used in a window display at a DKNY retail store, along with the following note, on the Humans of New York Facebook page early Monday:

I am a street photographer in New York City. Several months ago, I was approached by a representative of DKNY who asked to purchase 300 of my photos to hang in their store windows “around the world.” They offered me $15,000. A friend in the industry told me that $50 per photo was not nearly enough to receive from a company with hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue. So I asked for more money. They said “no.”

Today, a fan sent me a photo from a DKNY store in Bangkok. The window is full of my photos. These photos were used without my knowledge, and without compensation.

I don’t want any money. But please SHARE this post if you think that DKNY should donate $100,000 on my behalf to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. That donation would sure help a lot of deserving kids go to summer camp. I’ll let you guys know if it happens.

At the time of this post, Stanton’s post had received nearly 34,000 likes and nearly 4,000 comments, and it had been shared nearly 36,000 times.

Within four hours, DKNY posted the following apology:

Since its founding in 1989, DKNY has been inspired by and incorporated authentic New York into its imagery. For our spring 2013 store window visuals, we decided to celebrate the city that is in our name by showcasing “Only in NYC” images. We have immense respect for Brandon Stanton, aka Humans of New York, and approached him to work with us on this visual program. He declined to participate in the project.

For the spring 2013 windows program, we licensed and paid for photos from established photography service providers. However, it appears that inadvertently, the store in Bangkok used an internal mock-up containing some of Mr. Stanton’s images that was intended to merely show the direction of the spring visual program. We apologize for this error and are working to ensure that only the approved artwork is used.

DKNY has always supported the arts, and we deeply regret this mistake. Accordingly, we are making a charitable donation of $25,000 to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, in Mr. Stanton’s name.

Shortly thereafter, Stanton posted the following status update on the Humans of New York page:

$25k will help a lot of kids at the YMCA. I know a lot of you would like to have seen the full $100k, but we are going to take them at their word that it was a mistake, and be happy that this one had a happy ending. Thanks so much for your support, everyone.

Readers: Do you feel that DKNY handled the situation appropriately?

Thank you to Blink Vice President of Media Eti Suruzon for the tip.