Claire's Stores ignores Twitter criticism over copycat design claims

Claire's Stores is in the midst of a social backlash on Twitter and Facebook over its copying of Tatty Devine's designs. This 'head in the sand' approach taken by the brand is not working.

International accessories and Jewellery retailer Claire's copies designers' products and mass produces them for its 3,000 stores around the world.

Tatty Devine is an independent designer based in the UK. It has been making handmade jewellery since 1999, sells it online and through its stores in London. It is owned by Rosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine who are "proud to represent British design around the world".

Yesterday it blogged about blatant copying by Claire's which reported revenue in excess of $356.0 million for third quarter of 2011

Credit: Tatty Devine

Several pieces had been copied and were available to purchase in Claire's.

Naturally the team at Tatty Devine were outraged and blogged images comparing its own products with the copycat designs. Tatty Devine also got in touch with its lawyer.

Irate tweets about Claire's soon started to trend on Twitter.

Repeat Offender

Claire's itself has been under fire in the past.  Last year, Laura Figiel founder of She Draws accused Claire's of copying one of her jewellery designs. Claire's seems to have an 'ignore it and it will go away' policy for social media outbursts over yet another copying issue according to blogger Dan Martin.

Claire's is not the only brand copying original work. Earlier this year H&M was in the firing line for copying artwork from an Atlanta street sign for use on one of its homeware lines.

Paperchase came under pressure to withdraw one of its products after an artist complained on Twitter about the similarity of both designs.

Head in the sand

Claire's has decided to keep quiet over the social backlash on Twitter and Facebook.  Claire's also apparently removed the ability to post items on its Facebook wall.  It even deleted posts criticising its approach on its Facebook page and has blocked users who complain.

Claire's is not responding on Twitter to the many tweets flooding the @ClairesStores stream. Claire's is trending and Claire's is ignoring messages from critics.  This approach is in contrast to Tesco which tried to respond to criticisms on Twitter over claims of slave labour last week.

Claire's is not doing itself any favours by not responding to Tatty Devine. In crisis management it is best to acknowledge the issue whilst a solution is being worked out.

Although Claire's traditionally has had a 'no advertising, low profile' approach, dealing with the social onslaught will necessitate a change of behaviour. It cannot fail to hear the voice of its customers complaining in real time.

Brands cannot afford to blithely ignore the conversations that are happening -- especially when the conversations are directed at them.  This 'head in the sand' approach will negatively impact the brand as customers turn away.

Unhappy customers are quick to voice their disapproval on Twitter and Facebook.  They will have conversations with each other - whether or not the brand bothers to contribute to the conversation.

For a global brand trying to keep a low profile over something you have done wrong I have some advice.

Ignore these conversations at your peril

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