Latest News: Technology |  Celebrity |  Movies |  Apple |  Cars |  Business |  Sports |  TV Shows |  Geek


Filed under: News


From Paula Deen To Peekaboo Pants: Biggest Retail Flops Of 2013

Dec 31 2013, 8:26am CST | by

10 Updates
From Paula Deen To Peekaboo Pants: Biggest Retail Flops Of 2013
Photo Credit: Forbes


Full Story

From Paula Deen To Peekaboo Pants: Biggest Retail Flops Of 2013

As 2013 wheezes towards the finish line, we at Forbes are looking back at the stories that shaped the year.

Here on the retail beat, the past 12 months have been punctuated by some exciting, game-changing highs, like Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts’ new Apple gig.

We witnessed appalling lows, like the Bangladesh garment factory fire that killed thousands and put pressure on fast-fashion firms like Walmart and H&M to fix their supply chains. For more on the latter, see Forbes contributor Walter Loeb’s list of the tragedies that changed the retail landscape this year.

There have also been plenty of embarrassing goofs, PR gaffes and moments of foot-in-mouth idiocy this past year. In fact, predictably, the retail stories hogging the headlines in 2013 seemed to be the ones resulting in mealy-mouthed apologies or backpedaling.

Here are the cringe-worthy faux pas that stand out the most, in no particular order:

Paula Deen’s Racism Rift

The summer of 2013 was not kind to TV chef Paula Deen, she of the folksy banter and Southern-fried menu. In a deposition for a workplace discrimination suit, Deen admitted that she’d used racist language and tolerated racist jokes in one of her restaurants. Her lucrative business partnerships and endorsement deals evaporated one by one despite a teary Today Show apology. Walmart cut its ties with the chef, as did smaller companies like pharma firm Novo Nordisk, for whom she’d shilled a diabetes drug.

Lululemon’s See-through Pants Saga…

In March, cult workout-wear brand Lululemon made an embarrassing and costly announcement. The Canadian company recalled a whopping 17% of its yoga pants (price: $72 to $98) after discovering they were too sheer, resulting in some bad “bottom line” puns in the press. The outfitters earned plaudits for their handling of the recall, but it was a black eye for a brand with normally faultless PR. The year could’ve ended on a positive note for the yoga giants. Alas, their founder opened his mouth.

…And Lululemon’s Fat Thighs Fiasco

Confronted about this spring’s costly product recall during a TV interview, Lululemon’s billionaire founder Chip Wilson stumbled through an answer, blaming not Lululemon’s black Luon material for being too sheer but instead women’s thighs and their tendency to touch on occasion. “Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work,” the Vancouver-based former surfer explained. “It’s about the rubbing through the thighs,” said Wilson, and “how much pressure is there.” Wrong answer, Chip. Cue the weepy YouTube apology video.

McDonald's McMess

Thankfully, McDonald’s will start 2014 with a (relatively) clean PR slate after a series of idiotic gaffes that highlighted their workers’ low wages this past year. As Forbes contributor Laura Shin noted in her extensive coverage of the embarrassing incidents, the world’s largest restaurant chain drew groans for offering its employees a sample budget — which would’ve been fine, except that it served to show the impossibility of living on McDonald’s wages. Its McResource site went on to offer advice on how much its staffers, many of whom are paid minimum wage, should tip their pool cleaners and nannies. The burger purveyors have now shuttered the ridiculed website.

Abercrombie & Fitch’s Fat-Shaming

Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries weathered a spate of bad publicity this past spring, when some ill-advised comments from a 2006 interview found new life on the internet. He’d candidly suggested the teen retail chain’s clothes were only for the thin and attractive in the seven-year-old Salon piece, igniting a social media frenzy when resurrected in a widely-read Business Insider blog post. At the time, he apologized profusely (well, sort of. He regretted that his words were misinterpreted and caused offense). Six months later, the company capitulated and announced plus sizes would soon be on offer — a move decried as “desperate” given Abercrombie’s perilous financial state: November marked its seventh quarterly fall in same-store sales in a row.

Barilla Pasta’s LGBT Letdown/>/>

As Forbes contributor Laura Heller succinctly put it in September: “I pity the fool who messes with the purchasing power of the LGBT community.” Italian pasta company Barilla did just that when its CEO told a radio host he’d never market directly to gay couples, preferring instead “classic” families with a woman at the helm. German competitor Bertolli lost no time presenting itself as an LGBT-friendly option, as told  by AdWeek, posting a photo and caption that translates to “pasta and love for all” on its title="Facebook features">Facebook page and resurrecting a commercial from 2011 featuring gay couples.

Walmart’s Social Media Melee

To take advantage of the biggest shopping week of the year, the world’s largest retail chain opened on Thanksgiving, registering 10 million transactions between 6pm and 10pm that day alone. Walmart CEO Bill Simon appeared on morning TV the following morning, describing the store chain’s early Black Friday sales as “bigger, better, faster, cheaper and safer than ever.” Twitter users could be forgiven for contesting that final descriptor. Overnight on Thanksgiving, the hashtag #WalmartFights started trending across the U.S., according to social media tracker TrendsMapUSA. Shoppers at Walmart stores in a handful of states uploaded photos as well as YouTube and Vine videos showing violence, injuries and arrests during the retailer’s first few hours of sales.

Cracker Barrel’s Duck Dynasty Flip-Flop

I think we can safely call Cracker Barrel’s response to the Phil Robertson scandal a clusterduck. The Southern restaurant chain became the first major retailer to pull some Duck Dynasty products off its shelves in late December in response to cast member Phil Robertson’s now-notorious anti-gay GQ interview. Cue a barrage of tweets, emails, and calls from Duck Dynasty fans to the powers that be at Cracker Barrel, not to mention threats of a boycott. A day later, the 625-outlet comfort food chain capitulated and announced it would resume selling Duck Dynasty products.

What have I missed? Leave your suggestions in the comment section.

Inside Duck Dynasty's $400 Million Camouflage Empire

Source: Forbes


iPad Air Giveaway. Win a free iPad Air.

You Might Also Like


Sponsored Update

Update: 10

4 Firms In Iskandar Malaysia Get Facilitation Fund Totalling RM16.2 Million

Source: Malaysia Today

(Bernama) – Four companies have received the facilitation fund amounting to RM16.2 million from TERAJU@Iskandar Malaysia in an information sharing programme on business opportunities and assistance for the sm ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today 1 week ago, 7:42am CDT


Update: 9

Selangor’s Watergate about to explode

Source: Malaysia Today

Anwar brought Wan Azmi to meet Khalid to try to resolve this matter. Anwar supports the RM2.5 billion claim but Khalid is stubbornly sticking to the figure of RM250 million... ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 23 2014, 4:12am CDT

More From the Web

Update: 8

GLCs told to provide RM7 billion to develop Bumiputera firms

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – Putrajaya has directed government-linked companies (GLC) to generate RM7 billion in business opportunities for Bumiputera firms this year, Prime Minister Prime Minister Datu ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 17 2014, 2:05am CDT

Update: 7

Rafizi shows proof of Putrajaya’s hand in contentious carpet-trader loan

Source: Malaysia Today

Eileen Ng, The Malaysian Insider PKR lawmaker Rafizi Ramli today revealed documents to prove Putrajaya interfered in the RM32 million Bank Rakyat loan to ‎controversial businessman Deepak Jaikishan. Rafizi ( ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 16 2014, 2:16am CDT

Update: 6

PAS MP claims Bank Rakyat loaned carpet-trader RM215m, interest free

Source: Malaysia Today

(Malay Mail Online) – Controversial businessman Deepak Jaikishan (pic) was given a whopping RM215 million interest-free loan from state-owned Bank Rakyat, a PAS lawmaker alleged today, despite Putraja ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 14 2014, 5:52am CDT

Update: 5

MRCB, Nusa Gapurna and PKNS settle suit over RM3 billion PJ Sentral project

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB), Nusa Gapurna Development Sdn Bhd (NGD) and PKNS Holdings Sdn Bhd have reached an out-of-court settlement over the ownership of the... READ MORE ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 21 2014, 2:53am CDT

Update: 4

Story behind Syed Mokhtar’s ‘RM2.25 billion tax-exempt’ Bernas deal revealed, says PKR MP

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – An innocuous written reply in Parliament has provided a peek into the cosy relationship between the Najib administration and Malaysia’s best-known businessman, Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar... READ MORE ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 15 2014, 12:56pm CDT

Update: 3

Constitutional monarchy still murky concept

Source: Malaysia Today

After the RM4.5 billion land sale, the Sultan of Johor secured a 15% stake in MOL Access Portal (MOL) for RM396 million and took a 20% stake in ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 14 2014, 12:37am CDT

Update: 2

Sultan of Johor’s RM4.5 bil backlash?

Source: Malaysia Today

Has Sultan Ibrahim of Johor’s succession of big money deals over the last six months caused the tide of public opinion to turn against Johor’s royal palace? KiniBiz exam ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 11 2014, 8:49am CDT

Update: 1

Putrajaya denies carpet dealer given interest-free loan

Source: Malaysia Today

Eileen Ng, The Malaysian Insider Putrajaya today refuted allegations that Bank Rakyat had allowed carpet dealer Deepak Jaikishan to repay a RM32 million loan without interest following intervention ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 11 2014, 5:44am CDT

Shopping Deals


<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.




blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Sharknado 2: Death, Cameos, and Twitter
Sharknado 2: Death, Cameos, and Twitter
Sharknado raked in nearly a billion conversations and mentions on Twitter-in part because celebrities showed up everywhere.
Jada Pinkett Smith Opens Up About Her Marriage
Jada Pinkett Smith Opens Up About Her Marriage
The Actress Also Talks About Her New Role in This Falls "Gotham" TV Show.
Trending Now: Allison Williams, Sharknado 2 and Kate Upton
Trending Now: Allison Williams, Sharknado 2 and Kate Upton
Find below the top 3 trending news stories to start your day.
T-Mobile adds 1.5 million Subscriber in Q2
T-Mobile adds 1.5 million Subscriber in Q2
T-Mobile USA is on a wild run. The carrier added 1.5 million new customers in the last quarter.

About the Geek Mind

The “geek mind” is concerned with more than just the latest iPhone rumors, or which company will win the gaming console wars. I4U is concerned with more than just the latest photo shoot or other celebrity gossip.

The “geek mind” is concerned with life, in all its different forms and facets. The geek mind wants to know about societal and financial issues, both abroad and at home. If a Fortune 500 decides to raise their minimum wage, or any high priority news, the geek mind wants to know. The geek mind wants to know the top teams in the National Football League, or who’s likely to win the NBA Finals this coming year. The geek mind wants to know who the hottest new models are, or whether the newest blockbuster movie is worth seeing. The geek mind wants to know. The geek mind wants—needs—knowledge.

Read more about The Geek Mind.