The Mandarin Oriental in Munich showcased a Fendi tree earlier this week for an event. The tree glowed with tiny lights and soft colored ornaments. Small decorative presents were nestled under the tree with shiny bows gleaming. Boasting attendance by glitterati and celebrities, the cocktail reception’s fancy tree didn’t go unnoticed, and ornament pricing was listed as ranging into the thousands for each, with a grand total of 150,000 Euros for entire tree’s decorations. Photos were snapped as celebrities posed.
There was just one problem – all the ornaments and presents were made of fur from bunnies, minks and foxes.
— Fendi (@Fendi) November 26, 2016
A video was put up on Instagram of the tree, which instantly sparked ire from the public. Here it is –
Comments on Instagram were removed almost as quickly as they were put up, with animal lovers vehemently protesting and Instagrammers saying that the hotel should be ashamed for the tasteless insinuation that dead animal fur should be decoration. Animals rights groups wrote about the sad life of the furry creatures that die at the hand of fur farms, the celebrity photos with the fur ornaments in the background became an embarrassment, and local media like Abendzeitung picked up the story.
Angry commenters then turned their sharp comments towards the flagrant display of wealth, and suddenly the Mandarin Oriental found themselves smack dab in the middle of a heated discussion about refugees, homeless, and those in need, amplified by the Christmas season and the need for caring and sharing.
What a PR nightmare for them!
Backlash was so strong that the Mandarin Oriental issued a statement on Facebook.
The statement tried to shift the blame away from the hotel and direct it towards Fendi, saying that the decorative style was the responsibility of the design company. It also said that the Fendi tree has been removed, and a traditional tree is now in the lobby.
The incident is now known as “Pannenbaum”, which means problem tree in German. Appropriately, it rhymes with “Tannenbaum” which is the German word for fir.
I’m betting someone is wishing they’d thought twice about putting up the of-Fendi-ng tree, and maybe next time they’ll stick with fir, rather than fur.