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Kanye, Imma Let You Finish, But Zappos Has The Best Sh-t Product
By: Jennifer Graber
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Rap superstar Kanye West went head-to-head with the CEO of the online shoe retailer Zappos. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, apparently tried to give West business advice. As you can imagine, the tenacious rap star did not take too kindly to Hsieh’s words. In fact, West went to the airwaves to let everyone know just how much it displeased him. West called out Hsieh on a podcast, saying the whole argument was ridiculous simply because Zappos sells a "sh-t product." Basically, the rapper’s message was "how dare you give me advice when your product is crap."
 
Zappos did not take things lying down. In fact, the shoe retailer addressed the problem head on. If West believes Zappos sells a sh-t product then the solution is to sell one — literally. Zappos introduced the Sh-t Product, a $100,000 toilet and plunger with free shipping. The retailer hypes the products by saying that those looking for a sh-t product have come to the right place. Zappos takes aim at West’s words about the clash in the product description as well. And just when you did not think it could get any funnier, Zappos dropped, no pun intended, a how-to video for the toilet and plunger. Not to flush your dreams, however, but this sh-t product is merely a clever joke from Zappos (sorry for the toilet humor). Zappos’ CEO, Hsieh, said it was a “random fun idea” that was the work of employees from several departments. Hsieh also said in an interview that he actually “admires” the rap star’s branding abilities.
 
Consumers, and the public in general, have responded favorably to Zappos’ attitude and reply to the public battle with West. Many have posted hilarious reviews on the shoe retailer’s website, and some have used the website to voice their personal, unfavorable, opinions about the rapper. And many have reiterated their support and loyalty for the brand.
 
Zappos’ approach to the public feud with West is quite admirable. The brand could have slinked back, hung its head, and ignored the issue. Instead, the shoe brand faced the issue head on. In doing so the brand likely gained some loyal followers. But is it possible that Zappos’ actions will have the opposite effect for some consumers? Will any serious personality types not find the humor in the joke? And is there any situation in which humor is not the proper response in a public battle? Regardless of the answers, Zappos’ really took advantage of what could have been a much worse situation, and spun it in its favor.

   

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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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