Have you ever killed an animal in your entire life even a chicken as livestock? And is there a Canada Goose hanging in your wardrobe and keeping you warm from the extreme chill in those snowy days? If the answers are both yes, unfortunately, you are just like me, whose hands are stained with blood of coyotes.
In China, our ancestors have long history of using animal fur to make garment and people regard furry coats such as mink coats as a symbol of wealth and luxury. My family and I are always not into this idea and trend and never bought a full length fur before. However, when I came to the U.S., seeing many New Yorkers wearing Canada Goose and hearing many times how warm those coats can be, I just bought my own Canada Goose before the weather cooling down without a moment’s concern for the origins of that little flurry of fur on my around my face.
Several weeks later, when I was in the Natural History Museum with my friends, I noticed a flurry animal specimens which looks so familiar to me. Then my friends told me it was a coyote and the fur of my Canada Goose jacket is made of it. I was so shocked and surprised at that moment because I have no idea where that fur on my hat comes from. After going back home, I checked online and found a video showing the shocking cruelty of fur trapping, posted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
According to that video, coyote trappers use barbaric steel clamps to trap animals and coyotes trapped for their fur can suffer for days and face blood loss, frostbite, gangrene, and attacks by predators. If they aren’t dead when the trapper returns, they may be shot, strangled, stomped on, or bludgeoned to death.
Since then, I began to pay attention to the social media backlash of Canada Goose and the following protest in the New York city. Its brand reputation crisis never ends since 2016 and PETA keeps trying to call on consumers to “reject Canada Goose’s cruelty to coyotes and geese and to invest in kindness by buying vegan clothing instead.”
On 16 March 2017, PETA sent activists that wore coyote masks and business suits to downtown Manhattan to protest Canada Goose at its splashy initial public offering at the New York Stock Exchange. Protestors had signs that read “Trading in Lives Is Bad for Business.” According to Kim Basin, who covers the article “Don’t think the high-flying coat maker isn’t worried about activists”, the protest directed by PETA’s social media campaign can be quite aggressive:
“Your fur trim right here, you paid someone to murder a dog,” a protester with a whistle yelled at a woman in a Canada Goose parka. Others chased people down the block, signs in hand, chastising the coat-wearer for animal cruelty. “Shame on you!” another protestor screamed at a woman shuffling by in Canada Goose apparel.
People twitted out related information to in favor of PETA’s protest and a cluster of celebrities, including Justin Long and Maggie Q, have spoken out against the coat label.
Interestingly, this animal rights group recently bought $4,000 worth of Canada Goose shares, which is the “minimum amount required to contribute to shareholders meetings” in order to attend annual meetings and ask Canada Goose to stop sourcing animal products.
In respond to those ugly scenes in front of its stores and huge dangers towards its brand reputation on social media, Canada Goose first replied to PETA explaining it only uses fur from animals “for function, not fashion.”
Then, it implemented comprehensive traceability programs for both Fur and Down to ensure they are sourced from animals that have not been subjected to any unfair practices, willfull mistreatment or undue harm, and materials are fully traceable throughout the supply chain. Canada Goose also made The Canada Goose Fur Transparency Standard which certifies that it never purchase fur from fur farms, never use fur from endangered animals, and only purchase fur from licensed North American trappers strictly regulated by state, provincial and federal standards.
Last but not the least, it shot several videos and wrote articles to educate customers the functions of Coyote fur, the history of animal trapping as well as the idea that in many regions of North America, coyotes are considered a pest as they attack livestock, endangered prey species, pets and sometimes even people. Canada Goose always defends the usage of animal fur and believes that wearing fur is a personal choice.
Frankly speaking, Canada Goose is not the only brand using animal fur to produce clothes and it is success that makes it a juicier target for animal-rights activists. On the one hand, I agree with Canada Goose’s reaction to defend the usage of animal fur because the goose-feather insulation has already become such a prominent part of its branding. On the other hand, I think Canada Goose should pay more attention to PETA because it brings the biggest risks to this brand. A spokesperson for Canada Goose once said: “We understand PETA’s concerns and we respect the right of people to choose not to wear fur, however, we know PETA does not respect our ethical, responsible use of fur so further conversation won’t be productive.” This idea may not help them solve the crisis but only to make it worse.
As we can see, this situation can never be avoided because it relates directly to Canada Goose’s business model and this brand serves as a target of the fur industry. As far as I’m concerned, in order to solve this social media crisis, the PR and Marketing teams of Canada Goose are both responsible and ought to work together. As a result of the social media backlash,celebrities now shy away and even fight against this brand and magazines and websites are spreading negative information towards this brand. Therefore, PR and marketing teams are expected to use online and offline methods such as influencer marketing, brand collaboration, product placement to better educate consumers and strengthen the brand image.