Lululemon can’t even donate to charity without miring itself in controversy.
The yoga-wear retailer is getting slammed after announcing a partnership this week with the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education. Lululemon will contribute $750,000 to the Tibetan spiritual leader’s nonprofit organization over the next three years to expand education initiatives and for “researching the connection between mind-body-heart,” according to the company’s press release.
Some critics say the alliance is hogwash. They don’t think the Dalai Lama’s name should be associated with a money-making enterprise and complain he’s been “hijacked” and turned into a mere corporate marketing tool.
A mob flocked to Lululemon’s official blog, lighting up the comments section with accusations of hypocrisy.
“As he believes that luxuries are not necessities, you believe in $100 yoga pants,” one commenter pointed out.
“It is offensive that you have sunk so low as to use the Dalai Lama and his image as part of your branding,” another wrote.
“I am put-off by Lululemon’s bizarre effort to hijack the Dalai Lama for brand-building and commercial gain,” a third added.
A few who spoke out against the partnership claimed not to like the Dalai Lama, with one calling him “cruel” and another calling him “greedy.”
Lululemon appears to disagree. “Both organizations share a common vision for developing the next generation of compassionate leaders in the world and are committed to engaging and empowering healthy communities,” the company said in its press release.
Lululemon and the Dalai Lama Center did not respond to requests for additional comment.
Lululemon has a lot on its plate. Last spring, quality control issues sparked a recall of too-sheer yoga pants. Then, last fall, co-founder Chip Wilson irked many customers when he said Lululemon’s pants “don’t work” for some women’s bodies. Earlier this month, Lululemon managed to offend the entire city of Buffalo, New York, by making fun of its NFL team.
One commenter summarized: “Dear Lulu, your product is still in question, don’t get me wrong. Great marketing, done! Now get back to improving your product and winning clients back.”