February 7, 2008

Is it ok to make a bad move for a good cause?

Two nights ago, I saw two strange bikes chained next to Bryant Park. They were painted orange with DKNY.com stenciled on each side.

Their site has an “explore your city” link that takes you this page:

“Ok,” I thought, “interesting little campaign.”
The next morning, I discovered not everyone agrees:

Then yesterday, Creativity linked to this Gothamist story. It criticizes the guerrilla marketing stunt for appropriating the Ghost Bikes technique.

The bike-advocacy group Times Up! and Visual Resistance place white painted bikes at crash sites around the city as memorials for cyclists who were hit or killed.

Turns out, DKNY partnered with The New York City Department of Transportation on this campaign to promote biking as an environmentally friendly way to get around.
So they tried to do it right. (And right on time for Fashion Week .)
Hindsight is 20/20, but if they had reached out to the cycling community beforehand, the backlash could have been avoided.
I think they should still try to turn things around with an apology backed by donations to the NYC Bicycle Safety Coalition and the groups behind GhostBikes.org.

I sent DKNY's marketing department an email suggesting those donations and received the following response:

From: websitemailDKNY@dkintl.com
Sent: Fri 2/08/08 7:36 AM
DKNY is working with the Mayor's office to raise awareness of cycling as a healthy and environmentally sound means of transportation around NYC.
During Fashion Week (which runs the first week of February), DKNY has placed dozens of bright orange bicycles around the city to get people thinking…and talking about bicycles as a healthy and fashionable way to get around the city. DKNY’s marketing team developed the orange bicycle campaign to support the Mayor’s office ongoing efforts, in a way that would draw attention to this important initiative. We also provided financial support to help the New York City Department of Transportation raise awareness of its initiative to build a far-reaching network of innovative designed bicycle lanes and new bicycle parking facilities while stepping up education for cyclists and drivers.
We are very sorry if our well-intentioned “Explore Your City” program offended anyone.
Additional information about DKNY’s bicycle program is available at DKNY.com

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