Hobby Lobby has gained some viral attention recently — but not necessarily the right kind.
A Facebook user named Daniell Rider posted a photo of a vase containing some decor resembling raw cotton stems being sold at a local Hobby Lobby. The caption to the photo read: “This decor is WRONG on SO many levels. There is nothing decorative about raw cotton … A commodity which was gained at the expense of African-American slaves. A little sensitivity goes a long way. PLEASE REMOVE THIS ‘décor.”
The photo has since been shared more than 16,000 times and has more than 175,000 comments. Not all of the comments are negative though. In fact, a fair amount of commenters seem to support Hobby Lobby and not see anything offensive about the decor. Others called for a boycott of the craft store chain.
This isn’t the first time a business has faced controversy over something that might seem innocuous to the average customer. But if you’re thinking about releasing a new product or service or even changing up your marketing or branding, it’s important that you consider how those changes might appear to all of your customers.
Clearly, not all Hobby Lobby customers are offended by the decor. But some are. And the company could have potentially avoided the controversy altogether if it had considered the historical context of raw cotton and how selling such a product might appear to the public.
Consider the Potential for a Marketing Controversy
Others might argue this controversy is simply the result of oversensitivity and something that will blow over with time. Business owners must decide individually what image they want their brand to project. And that means considering any potential controversy that might come your way. When those controversies do come up, you must quickly and deliberately come up with a response that will fit with your company’s values and goals.
Hobby Lobby Photo via Shutterstock