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Making Lemonade out of a Leadership Lemon

June 20th, 2013 by The Forum Corporation
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A change in executive leadership at a corporation is always a fragile period, often cloaked in secrecy. It’s an especially sensitive time if the company is also grappling with others issues, like product quality or financial problems.

That’s precisely the issue that the popular yoga apparel marketer, Lululemon Athletica, is dealing with this week, after the firm’s CEO resigned unexpectedly last Monday. Christina Day’s resignation comes in the wake of trouble for the company earlier this year, when Lululemon was forced to recall yoga pants after customers discovered that they were actually see-through.

Immediately after resigning, the company’s stock price dropped.

But in the days following the bombshell news, the company changed the conversation, by casting a positive, or at least a humorous light on a serious situation.

After Day made her announcement, Lululemon posted this tongue-in-cheek fake CEO job listing (One tidbit from the job description: “You report to no one, you are the CEO (duh). You are passionate about doing chief executive officer type stuff like making decisions, having a vision and being the head boss person.) According to CNN, they’ve gotten over 160 responses, and generated tons of media coverage.

The company also penned a Facebook post saying, “CEO wanted… any ideas.” The post opened up the conversation to the brands fans, who have shared the post 399 times and posted close to 500 comments.

Although the Facebook post opened up the brand to criticism about a perceived drop in product quality, the post was a clever marketing move – it showed that the company, even during a time of turmoil, can poke fun at itself, and at the same time listen to its customers.  Brands, especially those undergoing an identity crisis, need to prove they’re listening to customers during this age of social media. Indeed you don’t have to look too far to find evidence that angry customer tweets or Facebook posts can do real damage to a company.

But by getting a little bit creative and transparent, Lululemon dulled the negative publicity and can now focus on finding an excellent new CEO.

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One Response to “Making Lemonade out of a Leadership Lemon”

  1. I think the real issue to cheer about here is Lululemon’s ability to admit they made a mistake and to show by example that after a mistake the sun still shines, the music is still heard and one can laugh.
    Too many organizational cultures breed a culture of fear where no mistakes will be accepted . This is imposssible. If you are in the game, really in the game, innovating, risking, trying…you will mess up every once in a while.
    I know this is the old addage that you heard at school and did not believe but here it is again…you can learn from your mistakes.
    Seems Lulu did just that!

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