DRAMA IN BRAZIL: The country’s presidential election might have bumped Glamour Brasil’s recent racism row off the media’s radar, but the magazine’s staffers are still feeling the heat from the fallout.
WWD has learned that Glamour Brasil fashion director Adriana Bechara last week suspended the services of a freelance contributor for hitting the “like” button on social media comments about an Instagram post by the magazine on Nov. 2 that has been criticized as being racist. Bechara claimed she was acting on a “Condé Nast” directive — only to have her actions dismissed as “nonsense” later that day by a senior executive at the company’s local joint venture partner, Edições Globo Condé Nast.
After the contributor complained to Daniela Falcao, who is editor in chief of Vogue Brasil and the editorial director of Edições Globo Condé Nast, Falcao reversed the suspension and Bechara was instructed to apologize, Falcao told WWD.
“There was never any direction from Edições Globo Condé Nast to stop working with anyone that has ‘liked,’ supported or even made a post accusing Glamour of racism,” said Falcao, who believes only one contributor was affected.
“We have apologized in all possible ways, some people have accepted, some not, which is understandable,” Falcao added about the Boomerang video posted on Nov. 2 and shared to Glamour Brasil’s one million Instagram followers. The video showed seven of the magazine’s staff members — including Bechara and editor in chief Monica Salgado — either bowing or else pulling their eyelids sideways, supposedly in celebration of an upcoming Japan-themed issue.
Falcao did not respond to questions regarding what, if any, disciplinary action had been taken against Glamour Brasil’s staff over the video.
Bechara and Salgado declined to comment.
The incident came three months after Vogue Brasil came under fire for publishing what it claimed were Rio de Janeiro 2016 Paralympics images but were actually photos of able-bodied actors that had been digitally enhanced by the magazine to make them look like amputees.
Glamour Brasil’s Nov. 2 post ignited extensive online news coverage and a firestorm of social media criticism.
Among the post’s 248 comments were the names of designer Peter Som, Net-a-porter vice president of global buying Sarah Rutson, Instagram’s head of fashion partnerships Eva Chen, Allure editor in chief Michelle Lee and bloggers Aimee Song, Tina Craig and Ingrid Chua-Go.
Noted Falcao, “The team was very hurt with the aggressiveness of some of the critics, but it has been a learning experience to all of us — not only about crisis control but mainly about how we have to be more and more cautious with anything posted that concerns ethnicity.”
According to Sydney-based social strategy consultant Tiphereth Gloria, Edições Globo Condé Nast’s apparent lack of a coherent social media crisis management plan only exacerbated matters.
It took until Nov. 4 to remove the offending post, with a one-line apology — in Portuguese — not published until Nov. 5.
On Nov. 8, a three paragraph apology in English followed, stating the publication was “profoundly sorry” and that the incident “does not match the magazine’s position or opinions” — directly contradicting staff commentary on social media.
“Here in Brazil we all know it has never been considered ofensive [sic],” noted Salgado in a still-visible comment on Yambao’s Nov. 5 post.
“It’s textbook what not to do,” Gloria said. “First up, they’ve done the wrong thing. Second, instead of actually acting swiftly, they’ve delayed retraction, they’ve delayed apologizing and they’ve apologized in a very half-hearted way. And then they’ve continued to act badly as individuals representing the company in social channels — fighting back and arguing and being snarky about how they thought they didn’t do anything wrong.”