After an open letter Lin Kramer posted on the Party City Facebook page was inexplicably deleted, and she was subsequently banned from commenting there, Women You Should Know gave the concerned mother a platform to be heard. Not only was her voice amplified, the story went viral in less than 24 hours. Now five days later, Lin’s letter is still being shared all over social media, and continues to be plastered on Party City’s Facebook page by countless other consumers who share her concerns about girls’ costume options and want to echo the well articulated points she made.
Party City has had five days to respond to Lin directly, but has not. Rather, the company has spent the week cutting and pasting a canned PR response to individual Facebook users who have posted a copy of Lin’s letter, commented in support of her letter or expressed a similar sentiment on its page.
After seeing our story, The Huffington Post reached out to Party City yesterday, a move which seems to have forced the company’s hand in issuing an overdue statement that actually acknowledges Lin Kramer. Huff Po published the company’s “official” response today in a piece for which they also spoke with Lin.
In our opinion, this statement amounts to nothing more than a slightly expanded version of the canned PR response Party City has been posting on its own Facebook page all week, which has come off to many as sounding like a corporate parent blaming lecture rather than a genuine appreciation of consumer opinion. While it has a lot of extra words, it still doesn’t say anything substantive, and certainly does not read as Party City taking any responsibility for the role it plays in gender stereotyping and marketing when it comes to kids’ costumes. The rotten cherry on top of this already spoiled PR sundae, is that the company wants Lin to reach out to THEM. Ummm… that’s what she initially did, which set off this chain of very unfortunate events.
We spoke with Lin tonight to get her take on Party City’s statement. This is what she shared:
“To date, Party City has not contacted me or reached out in any way. I learned about Party City’s response via The Huffington Post. The statement issued by Party City appears to be a slightly different version of the response already rejected by thousands of consumers online. Echoing the sentiments of those consumers, I remain disappointed and saddened that Party City has elected not to substantively address the disparate costuming options offered for boys and girls, as well as to ignore the overt and disturbing sexualization of young girls encouraged by its merchandise and marketing.”
As all this was happening, Lin noticed that Party City has also been issuing another “official” statement* today in response to nearly every recent post on its Facebook page from users who are still taking the company to task over how its social media team handled the initial response to Lin’s letter and/or the obvious issues with its genderized and sexualized girls’ costumes.
* This is an actual screen grab we pulled from Party City’s Facebook page tonight.
How convenient that Party City suddenly learned of this supposed employee who allegedly went rogue. If that’s truly the case, why was this part of the corporate fairy tale not included in the “official” statement to The Huffington Post? It took a social media task force five whole days to discover the root of this nightmare? And if they realized this debacle stemmed back to an employee gone bad, how about reaching out to the customer who had been treated discriminately rather than expecting said customer to stumble upon this information online for herself.
We’re just not buying any of it. It’s a lot easier to blame one seemingly disposable, faceless, nameless worker, rather than own up to systemic corporate wrong doing. Party City has had several opportunities to do the right thing and effect real change, yet the company continues to make poor choices and bad decisions, digging the hole it’s already put itself in that much deeper.
Lin Kramer has still heard nothing directly from Party City.