When the World Worries About Volcanic Ash, Ferragamo Whines

2010-04-20 by Archie Obrien

Eyjafjallajökull volcano

I believe there’s no human being on this planet who doesn’t know about the recent eruptions of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano, and is not worried about traffic conditions, passengers’ health and, in the end, the safety of our Planet. But for Ferragamo these don’t seem to be concerns. Salvatore Ferragamo SpA Chief Executive Officer Michele Norsa worries about handbag sales this week. The “luxury shoemaker’s handbags and ties at duty-free stores are suffering as the volcanic ash cloud shutters airports across Europe” BusinessWeek reports.

And Michele Norsa whines: “I’m beginning to worry because it’s an important week. People are being sent away and therefore aren’t entering the stores.

The reason for Norsa’s worries? The Japanese Golden Week begins on April 29 – a public holiday that attracts many tourists to the country. However, Ferragamo has about 130 duty free stores worldwide, all accounting for 11 percent of annual sales (according to the quoted BusinessWeek report) so the sales loss would not put Ferragamo out of business if the airports don’t resume activity by next week. This cannot be said about air carriers that lose billions each day. Besides, the financial loss means nothing if the passengers are safe. Yes, they cannot travel, they are stressed and they want to go home. But at least they are safe. No plane had crushed because of malfunctions induced by volcanic ash yet – and that’s precisely because people are being sent home instead of being invited to ride their last ride! But purses are important, aren’t they? What a goof!

Talking about goofs, it’s been a while since we last awarded a company such a prestigious prize. So today, the Everything PR Goof Award goes to Salvatore Ferragamo SpA Chief Executive Officer Michele Norsa, who instead of figuring out a way to help people deal with the travel crisis, shows more concerns about his own skin, while other companies in the luxury industry are focused on helping passengers who are stranded, by offering free meals, for example:

“We’ve treated it like a humanitarian crisis. We understand the stress that they must be going through. These are people who need to get back to their businesses, to work, to their families, to write exams and to take medical tests,” said Patrick Antaki, General Manager of the Le Méridien Al Aqah in Fujairah.

People stranded in New Zealand are helped by New Zealanders who understand the meaning of humanity and open their homes to strangers in need – for free! The list of such examples could go on, and it is good to see that there are people who actually care, and find a way to show solidarity.

As far as a purse crisis goes… accounting for 11% of annual sales… by God, keep your mouth shut!

Weber Shandwick works with a number of Ferragamo brand spin-offs, although the Italian luxury brand handles most of their needs internally.

Archie Obrien - Everything Public Relation News