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Lyst launches controversial ‘canine collection’ & receives huge backlash

Lyst, a fashion e-commerce site if you didn’t know, launched the world’s first ever ‘canine collection‘ yesterday (9/5/16).

It is exactly how it sounds, a page dedicated to selling 33 different dog breeds, from French Bulldogs to Dalmatians.

Now this might be a quite obvious PR stunt to media folk, however if like myself, you adore animals (I am the proud Mother to a Cocker Spaniel and cat), but do not work within the media industry, then this stunt is quite distressing. In the recent months it’s been widely reported in the UK how puppy farms are on the rise, where dogs are being abused and mistreated, leading to organisations such as the RSPCA to campaign for puppy breeders/sellers to have mandatory licenses.

(sourced from the Daily Mail)

So for members of the general public to then see that a fashion website is selling dogs, as in living creatures, via the website, where anyone can purchase one – Lyst claims all you have to do is speak to a member of the ‘canine care team’ before the order is completed – is of course going to rattle some cages. You as the buyer have no idea what conditions these puppies have been kept in and then to top it off the dogs are then delivered in a ‘stylish Lyst-branded carry Kennel’ to your doorstep, as if it were an Amazon order! It’s hardly surprising that Lyst has had a serious amount of negative feedback is it?

To make things worse, Lyst’s twitter is full of tweets about happy customers receiving their ‘packages’, refund and delivery policies and even sent out a poll asking twitter when they will be ordering their puppy. One ‘happy customer’ is the Deputy Fashion Editor of The Sun so that reinforces the theory it’s a PR stunt, but you only have to read the reply tweets here to see people are not seeing the funny side.

The Malconate has done some digging and revealed that it is a stunt by The Social Chain, an agency who specialises in these kind of viral stunts, have a read if you want to know how something like this is done behind the scenes!

I think that in terms of link building and SEO the canine collection stunt has done its job, there are links from high DA sites (Metro, Daily Mail, Telegraph), it’s driving traffic to the site, however the timing could not have been worse. I doubt very much that Lyst wanted the backlash that has come with the story – I haven’t seen one media outlet report on it positively – it could be that Lyst were just naive/insensitive to the public’s response or they expected more people to coin on to the fact it’s a stunt, who knows, but I would put a years salary on that they won’t be doing anything this controversial again!

 

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Lydia Bryant works as a Junior Account Manager at Rich Leigh and Co and is a marketing graduate.