Posted by: Ohh la la | June 18, 2011

Petit Bateau lost at sea

When French international brand, Petit Bateau, launched a new range of romper suits  in France for baby girls and boys it envisaged it would be plain sailing.

The storm started in France on Monday June 13 at 6.43pm when Elise F. posted the following message on Petit Bateau’s Facebook page: “I have just seen the photo of a grey romper suit with sexist words spelling out the worst stereotypes. It’s pathetic. ” according to Madame Le Figaro online

There are in fact two models – (though the words get a little lost in translation so don’t take me too literally) one printed with pink words: “Pretty, stubborn, funny, girly girl… ”, and in blue letters: “Courageous, strong, proud, cool…”

Petit Bateau - the romper suit at the heart of the storm

By 7 pm the feminist French blog Osez le féminisme ! has published the photo of the romper suits accused on its Facebook page and invited its followers to voice their protest.

A few minutes later, the story has spread out to on Twitter (a hashtag #bodygate has even been created).

Whilst it is unclear whether this started with a real discontent shopper or would be in fact a marketing plot, Petit Bateau has apologised to its fans on Facebook if the romper suits unwillingly conveyed sexist messages but has also insisted that there was no reason why they should withdraw the products from the market.

The debate isn’t entirely finished yet – customers and the public are still posting their comments on the Facebook page and on Twitter. And as Petit Bateau thanks its many followers, whilst the message has since been deleted, fans are invited to continue expressing their views on the page.

It goes to show that whatever the origin of the storm, the instant power of social media is growing stronger all the time. Brands, large and small, local and international, really have to embrace online marketing if they haven’t done so already.

Remember other people will be talking about you or your brand on social networks, even if you don’t. For businesses still hesitating to have an social media presence, what are you waiting for to join in the conversation?!

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