I read in Expressen that H&M; are investigating the possibilities to sue super model Kate Moss for damages. H&M; are looking at recovering some costs that came as a result of the recent cocaine scandal. From a PR perspective this seems like a very very bad idea. Here’s why:
1. She’s sorry. She made a stupid mistake and admitted it. She apologized to everyone that might have suffered from her behaviour. Going after someone who is truthfully apologetic does not give your company a sympathetic image, even if you technically are entitled to do it.
2. You forgave her. H&M;’s initial reaction to the story was to give Moss a second chance. By suing her, H&M; make a 180 degree turn and does not come out as a company with a clear strategy on this matter.
3. Big vs small #1. H&M; is a huge company, partially owned by one of Sweden’s richest men. It has all the resources one can wish for, whilst Moss is an individual, a small woman, albeit wealthy and big enough to snort cocaine. Nevertheless, readers are more likely to side with David than Goliath.
4. Big vs small #2. Does it not look somewhat greedy for a company that last year made a net profit of SEK 7.2 billion to sue an individual for damages? Um, yes it does.
5. Addiction is a disease, even if self inflicted. Moss is obviously sick. She needs help, not law suits. Sure, she caused the situation herself, but then what? Do H&M; want to destroy her?
6. Enough already. The more H&M; talk about the incident, the longer it will continue and they run the risk of being associated with a drug addict. Just drop it and focus on your new campaign. Use the massive attention to do something positive.
7. The story broke on 15 Sept. First they forgave her, then H&M; didn’t communicate that they are dropping Moss until 20 Sept. I can understand that H&M; feel they are in a business relation with Moss and that she broke the contract and cost H&M; some serious money. But had the company had a clear strategy from the beginning it might even have gained credibility and brand recognition from the story. Now, it is more likely that the brand will suffer from whimsical public relations than from the cocaine scandal itself. (H&M; now claim they decided to drop Moss on 17 Sept. Which is worst, having trouble deciding or not being able to communicate what they have decided?)