Sunday, April 01, 2007

DZ 'marketing effort' is "Ditzy"

The PR fiasco that came of the attempt by Delta Zeta to 'upgrade' their chapter at DePauw has me wondering. Didn't anyone at their headquarters ever takes a basic marketing course?

First problem - :By all accounts, the sorority chapter was a small but diverse group who were noted more for brains and personality than a "Barbie doll" look. The initial attempt to reorganize the chapter got off to a bad start when all but 12 women were asked to leave because of a "lack of commitment." Oddly, all the girls who were "committed to improving the chapter" turned out to be thin and white. All the brown and dumpy ones were "not committed". What would it take to show commitment - lose weight and bleach their skin? Maybe Delta Zeta should recruit Michael Jackson as a makeover consultant.

Second Problem - :After the initial shock wore off some of the newly minted "alumnae" went public with their comments and concerns and the story quickly found legs on the internet and in the mainstream media. DZ HQ responded with a defensive statement that sounded like Alberto Gonzales trying to justify firing the 9 US attorneys. The DZ National President tried to make out like they were the victims in all this mess. Puh-leeze! It sounds sort of like the boy who killed his parents, then pleaded for mercy because he was an orphan.

Third Problem - :Then, After DePauw got fed up and kicked them off campus anyway, DZ has filed a lawsuit! Thereby guaranteeing that there will be updates as the suit progresses for months or years to come. They should have just laid low, accepted the 'injustice' as a price for their incompetence. and gone on about the business of image repair.

Back to marketing. I have just finished taking a graduate level marketing course. Coincidentally, the professor is a graduate of DePauw and his wife is a DZ alumna. Somehow, the class started discussing the situation. (OK - I confess. I started it.) He told us that in his view the national organization has done everything wrong, starting with the reorganization process. He told us his wife is extremely upset and has vowed no more involvement. I believe it. If a similar fiasco had happened with my home Sig Ep chapter I would be similarly upset.

If the DZ leadership has any hope of getting past this they would do well to consider bringing in some professionals at image repair. It would probably start by 'regretfully' accepting the resignations of anyone who had responsibility for those decisions. Next I would think they should bend over backwards to demonstrate how 'diverse' and 'accepting' they can be. They could hire the same ad firm that does the "Campaign for Real Beauty"commercials for Dove.