A “founder dilemma” Ralph Lauren Boutiques model themselves on their adherence to the aesthetic and lifestyle of Ralph himself. Fashion Designer Ralph Lauren has become the epitome of classic fashion. With product lines such as Polo/Ralph Lauren for Men, Ralph Lauren for Women, Double RL, Ralph Lauren Home, and even Ralph Lauren paint, it makes us wonder who the man behind the label really is. Because most fashion companies are branded around the personality of the designer – from Tom Ford to Yves Saint Laurent – there is often a huge challenge presented when the founding designer retires or, as was the recent case with Gianfranco Ferre, dies. In the past, companies like Dior brought on outrageous celebritystatus designers to bring new energy and media exposure to their brands after the loss of the namesake designer. More recently, this practice is changing because people care less about a wild designer than a continued aesthetic and symbolic value presented by a brand. However, finding a head designer that can perfectly transition the values of the namesake into a new generation is quite a difficult thing. This is not the case with PRL. David Lauren, Ralph’s oldest son, has been an integral part of his father’s business. Today, David is in charge of Polo Ralph Lauren’s marketing, advertising and corporate communications and the driving force behind the company’s new look (that’s Senior Vice President, at only 37 years old). He has brought polo.com to the forefront of digital fashion initiatives, and is highly invested in the success of the company.
David Lauren has unique experience that would make him a great fit (from an outsider’s view, anyway) as successor to his father’s position. First of all, he has grown up within the Ralph Lauren lifestyle, and from an early age experienced the American rituals that his father only dreamed of as a child. He understands the business as well as anyone could because he grew up with it. While in college at Duke, David founded a magazine called Swing, which had broad readership among its targeted 20-something market, but folded after 5 years. David then joined his father’s company, and was the force behind the Rugby line as well as polo.com. He has shown that he can connect with the younger markets, a mission that often sidestepped his father. Since PRL is now a public company, issues of succession are not controlled by Ralph Lauren alone. However, David has proven himself a likely candidate when a time for transition emerges. “Today, fashion companies are branded around the personality of the designer”. Moreover, Polo Ralph Lauren announces internal reorganization of global Marketing, Advertising and corporate communications. This move will better support Polo Ralph Lauren's global business development strategies as well as integrate the Company's international marketing and communications platforms. Besides, David Lauren, will assume a new role as Senior Vice President of Marketing, Advertising and Corporate Communications for Polo Ralph Lauren. In addition, he will direct the Company's e-commerce marketing efforts. Mr. Lauren was Chief Creative and Marketing Officer of Ralph Lauren Media. He will continue to report to Mr. Morgan.
-Adélaïde Barbier –
Recommandations partie Adé:
The “founder dilemma” that faced PRL is not a unique and isolated case, Hermes, L’Oreal faced it also. PRL has called us to help them in their organization changes and to improve their brand image. After several meetings with the management and the employees, but also after a real action research, we found out that it is not a very good idea for the company to put David Lauren to replace his father. It is a little too early and he can affect the company in the long term. Letting the son taking the reindeer of the company will be not an effective way to replace the father, because it is not an objective way to run the business and a lack of openness. The goal for us is too use the “Teaching smart people how to learn” in the case of the founder dilemma, it is important for us to create and develop a double-looping learning. That is why; we will focus on several actions: -
Reflecting on their assumptions
Testing the validity of their beliefs