By Paul Pannone
Transparency and up-to-date information are the keys to success, as shown by the leadership of Steve Lang at Mon Cheri. Lang never skips a beat when it comes to grabbing a telephone, microphone or a keyboard to communicate with partners, staff and even reporters; answering any and all questions with total accuracy and openness, whether the news is good or bad. If the progress is good, he moves on. If the news isn’t so good, he stops and fixes the problem in real-time.
Companies outside the dress manufacturing business are pledging their support to Lang’s Campaign.
In an ongoing eWedNewz story, Steve Lang has risen to the top of the wedding gown business because of his ability to rally resources and skip over stupidity. Lang admitted his discomfort with the IBMA structure and inept nature: to talk for years while foreign intruders destroy the industry.
In his latest update to the business he writes:
Dear Industry Partners,
This is an update on what has happened recently
1. Meeting with Head of Legal at FedExTook place today at 11am Attended by me and attorney Craig Hilliard. FedEx has committed that as soon as we receive a court or a Customs ruling that these sites are breaking the law, within a day all these shippers will be closed off and their accounts closed. We expect the same cooperation from UPS and that meeting should take place this week. DHL and other common carriers will have to respond in kind.
2. Mr Hilliard will be in contact with US Customs and the courts to generate the protection we need to enforce the shippers and the pay sources such as Paypal, etc., to comply.
3. Stark and Stark will have a website set up by the meeting in Chicago that all parties will be able to utilize to help in this effort. It will update what is happening and be a clearing house for the effort.
4. A meeting has been set up for April 4 in my NY showroom for the press. Conde Nast, For the Bride, Bridal Guide, The Knot, Martha Stewart, Munalucci Bride , Hearst have been invited and most have already confirmed.Today I will invite other press as I did not have all emails of everyone at home last night.
Today BrideClick, Wedding Wire and others will be invited. I will help the press create uniform messages to put in the field in print and digitally to educate the consumer. We will spread the work out to as many places as possible including news sources out side of our industry. I will ask the press to use a consistent message and dedicate space to prom, bridals and other categories.I will bring a layout artist from my art department to help with concept sketches for ads. I will add PR support through my PR agency.
5. Donations continue to come in from manufacturers, retailers and sales people. Pleased about this.
6. Stark and Stark will also help with reaching out to political figures. I suggest everyone contact their local representatives and congressmen as well informing them of the need for attention to this matter. It all helps as you never know who in congress is on a commission with customs officials.
7. I will continue this effort and will keep everyone informed.
Please make a point of attending the meeting at 11 am Monday of next week in Chicago. If you cannot attend the meeting, send someone please. It is on the eight floor , same as the show, and there will be signs.
Lang’s campaign continues to take shape and grow at a faster pace than anyone could have imagined. Because of his succinct actions Lang’s war chest grows daily, supported by some of the biggest wedding dress manufacturers in the country. Now, eWedNewz watches, as business entities that service the wedding and prom markets side with Lang.
David Knapp of Top 10 Prom responded to Lang’s campaign saying:
Thank you for taking a leading position in this important matter and for helping to bring it to the forefront. The events unfolding in our industry are following the exact pattern predicted in the Industry Review we had commissioned three years ago as part of our longer term planning for the Top 10 Prom group. Unfortunately these are unfolding even faster than we had first thought which is VERY fast. This does not bode well for many of the current prom and bridal vendors, especially those that have not focused on relationships with the brick and mortar stores. The structure of the final outcome has already been set in motion and is unlikely to change very much, but which businesses are left standing within that structure is still very much undetermined.
As in other consumer driven industries that are already well ahead of us on this curve, the steps taken must be equally strong on two fronts. It seems you are moving quickly on the first front which is more legal and political attacking the supply side. This is an important front to take action on, but as you pointed out it is a game of whack-a-mole. Legal processes as well as government protection and customs enforcement will likely take time and the vendors are certainly in the best position to work together doing so.
The second front is consumer education to attack the demand side. This is an area that we can all likely work together very effectively. Jane Fort, David Liu, Peter Grimes and others have taken a lead by offering to help with possible editorial and/or PSA ad space. The Top 10 Prom publications and website reach several million girls across the country as well. All book groups, all vendors, all retailers and all advertisers (magazines, websites, etc) should include a consistent professionally created PSA educational campaign. This would be included on all print materials and advertising, mailers, websites, in-store materials from localized press releases to dressing room posters all the way down to information printed on each hangtag on every dress and more. Doing so would make a major impact with quite literally hundreds of millions of impressions.
The consumer education should include strong why-not and what-can-go-wrong components to protect the consumer from the downsides of how they may be cheated, lose their money or ruin their own prom night. The use of strong emotional testimonials is recommended. This type of consistent marketing across all platforms at this rate of gross impressions would make a significant impact to the demand side through consumer education.
We started committing more space to this message in recent years and believe working together is in everyone’s best interest. We would be glad to work with everyone in the industry, vendors, stores, groups and advertisers to help protect all of the vendors’s valuable tradenames and products, not just those in the Top 10 Prom group but everyone. What is best for the industry as a whole is certainly best for our 100+ stores as well. While a rising tide raises all boats, a falling tide hurts us all just as much.
Again, thank you for taking a leading position on this important topic. There will be parts of this topic in which some affected parties will have opposing goals, but the areas where we share common goals are significant and those items should remain the focus to make real progress and will help the industry while protecting the consumer. Top 10 Prom is in a strong position to dedicate our marketing resources to the consumer education front and stand ready to do so.
Top 10 Prom
eWedNewz continues our investigation into this story, including allegations and suspicions that some of the manufacturers and personalities that have not stepped forward to support the move could be harboring and aiding foreign companies involved with websites that sell direct to consumers.
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