PR Fail: Max Clifford Gives John Galliano the Worst Damage Control Advice Ever (Updated)

Update: John Galliano released a statement which wisely ignores Max Clifford’s incredibly stupid recommendations entirely.

It reads in part:

“However, I fully accept that the accusations made against me have greatly shocked and upset people.

I must take responsibility for the circumstances in which I found myself and for allowing myself to be seen to be behaving in the worst possible light.

I only have myself to blame and I know that I must face up to my own failures and that I must work hard to gain people’s understanding and compassion. To start this process I am seeking help and all I can hope for in time is to address the personal failure which led to these circumstances and try and earn people’s forgiveness.

I have fought my entire life against prejudice, intolerance and discrimination, having been subjected to it myself. In all my work my inspiration has been to unite people of every race, creed, religion and sexuality by celebrating their cultural and ethnic diversity through fashion. That remains my guiding light.

Anti-semitism and racism have no part in our society. I unreservedly apologise for my behaviour in causing any offence.”

via Fashionista

We promise, unless John Galliano personally invites us over for a drink, this is one of the last things we’ll mention about this story, but Vogue UK rounded up various quotes on Galliano and we happened upon this gem:

“I think Galliano needs to justify what he’s done,” Max Clifford, PR and damage-control expert, told WWD. “He needs two or three Jewish friends to come forward and tell the public that he is not remotely anti-Semitic in all the years they have known him. Or he has to say it was meant to be a funny rant, or that he was just trying to annoy to the people sitting next to him.”


As we predicted, a number of statements are so enamored with Galliano’s skill that they separate it from his social failings, but that particular piece of advice fails on so many levels that we can’t wonder how much Clifford was drinking before he offered it.

For starters, there are probably two things Galliano could offer to justify what appeared on that video: an evil twin or multiple personality disorder, with one personality being kind, genius fashion designer and the other being drunk Nazi admirer. Since we haven’t heard either of those tossed out as possibilities, there really isn’t any justifying the level of stupidity Galliano demonstrated.

Though he can say crazy things of his own, Karl Lagerfeld actually sums it up pretty well in his statement to WWD:

“I’m furious that it could happen. Because the question is no longer even whether he really said it. The image has gone around the world. It’s a horrible image for fashion, because they think that every designer and everything in fashion is like this. This is what makes me crazy in that story.

The thing is, we are a business world where, especially today, with the internet, one has to be more careful than ever, especially if you are a publicly known person. You cannot go in the street and be drunk – there are things you cannot do.”

This from the man who seems to confuse Facebook and the iPad.

Then we get to the other gems within this polished PR dropping: “he needs two or three Jewish friends.” Really? Galliano just needs a token Jew or two? Let’s find a black friend for David Duke to hang out with, that would totally change his image.

“Or he has to say it was meant to be a funny rant.” The only people who might find Galliano’s rant funny are other bigots, possibly bigots who encouraged him to play the role of a World War II era bigot. Unless the conversation immediately preceding that video rant is “okay John, just like we practiced, give us your best impression of a bigot!” it’s difficult to imagine anyone could find that video to be anything but sad on many, many levels.

“Or that he was just trying to annoy to the people sitting next to him.” Really? Really? Max, are you and Charlie Sheen on the same stuff? We hear he has a PR opening, so there might be an opportunity there, but back to this. You know what would be annoying? A designer telling someone she has an ugly bag and ugly eyebrows. We actually thought that was fairly funny, and it was probably annoying as well. Do you know what’s not annoying? Someone talking about loving Hitler and gassing people.

Annoying: “You have an ugly bag, ugly eyebrows, your shoes are cheap, your breath smells and you do look fat in that outfit.”

Bigoted: “I love Hitler. People like you would be gassed.”

See how that’s more hateful,  insulting and disgusting, than funny or annoying?

No? Well, take our word for it, there’s a difference. We haven’t been doing PR as long as you have, but allow us to take a stab in the dark here and revise your piece of advice.

Galliano should first of all acknowledge what he’s done. He should have two or three mental health or alcohol abuse professionals come forward and tell the public that they are helping him address his deep personal issues. Or, he has to say sincerely that there was no excuse or justification for the things that came out of his mouth, and the sheer level of stupidity that led him to drink to the point where he couldn’t conduct himself publicly in an acceptable way.

Fixed that for you.

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