Why I’m Boycotting ColourLovers

So much for a quiet rainy day. A little bit ago, I stumbled upon this gem on Twitter.

Normally, I’d probably just shake my head at the ignorance and move on instead of engaging in a flamewar. But then, I remembered this:

See that part about “Creative Director at Colourlovers”? Whomp. Whomp.

Colourlovers is a site where I used to go for color palette inspiration, to look at color trends, and fab software- I bought their Seamless Studio program and their ColorSchemer program for work. If you use twitter, you might even use Themeleon (which I did until today), to customize a patterned background for your profile.

So when I saw that Shaun, their Creative Director, had tweeted this, I felt pretty strongly about telling both him and ColourLovers that I wouldn’t be using the site any more. My feelings on the matter are this: if I am AWARE of a company’s politics/policies (this includes beliefs advertised by the companies’ higher-ups, like Moynihan, in my opinion)- and I disagree vehemently with them, I’m going to do everything in my power to avoid giving that company more money. For example, I think that Dov Charney, CEO of American Apparel, is a skeezy mcskeezerson. As a result, I don’t buy anything from AA. Easy.

Here are the screenshots of my initial response to Shaun, and the resulting tweets:


So here’s my take on the whole thing:

1) If you say in your social media profiles that you hold x,y,z position at Company A, you’re acting as a representative of that company. While your comments might not accurately reflect the company’s beliefs, by virtue of adding your job title to part of your biography, you– the employee/ceo/creative director– actively bring the company into the matter.

2) Social media is out there for EVERYONE to see. When you tweet something as divisive as a statement asking how women who’ve had abortions can live with themselves… that’s out there… and saved by the Library of Congress, in case you were wondering. Obviously in this case, Shaun knew exactly what he was doing when he sent that tweet.

Combine these two things, and you have the potential for a “perfect social media storm.” Much like the case of The Bloggess and the epic PR fail, Shaun was speaking as himself, but as a representative of ColourLovers. Because of that, I’ve blocked Shaun (and his nasty supporter) and will not be going to the ColourLovers site any time soon. I’ve also changed my background– no more themeleon– and, sadly, will be looking for alternatives to their programs.

Really, politics aside, it’s a matter of businesses — and their employees– on social media, and what happens as a result of associating yourself with a brand (or aligning your brand with various viewpoints). You have a right to your opinions. I have a right to mine. But I also have the right to choose not to patronize your business, visit your website, or buy your products, if I come across things that your business says/does that I disagree with so strongly.

So peace out, CL & crew. From now on, I’ll be sticking to Design-Seeds (who’s got a FAB redesign, btw) for color inspiration, and I’m working on a custom Twitter background tonight. Definitely would love to hear your sources for color palette and pattern inspiration too! If anyone is interested in your own branded backgrounds or developing a better alternative to themeleon? Let me know- I’d be down. Most importantly though, is if you’re going to say stuff that’s judgmental (yes, the way he phrased that DEFINITELY was) and divisive? Be prepared for the fallout. Especially on social media.

Edit: This is the response I got from the creator of Colourlovers; he also commented below. Thoughts?

EDIT P2: for the record, I’ve since gone back to using Colourlovers. Shaun no longer works there — for whatever reason — and I feel that I can support the company again as they/their employees aren’t espousing hateful beliefs. That’s really what it came down to. Darius was also fabulous in addressing and diffusing the situation quickly, so kudos on really rocking the social media customer service.  To those of you sending me nastygrams about how dare I suppress their freedom of speech by disagreeing and boycotting– where were you when people were boycotting Starbucks for being pro-gay rights? Or Modern Family for having untraditional and (gasp!) a gay couple adopting a child? Something tells me you were probably on the forefront of those up in arms about that. People — and companies– can have their beliefs all they want. That doesn’t mean I’m going to spend my hard-earned money there. Period.

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0 thoughts on “Why I’m Boycotting ColourLovers”

  1. Wow, good for you!!!  If you hadn’t tweeted I would not have known but will now forever associate this company with condescending and judgemental behaviour. The fact that his stance on this issue is contrary to my opinion is secondary to the fact that he made an ugly remark in a very public forum without considering the potential fall-out to his business.  I feel this brings his leadership and management skills into question (not to mention his common sense).  Thank you very much for bringing this to my attention! 

  2. Honestly this is something that the high and mighty must learn.  We are all free to share our opinions (we all DO have opinions and the right to believe/share them)  but don’t ethical business practices come in especially when you are trying to uphold trust with customers/clients/dare I say constituents?
    “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial”.  I wonder what the benefit of this man’s statement has for anyone.  Regardless of ones beliefs about abortion – isn’t slander a form of death?  Jesus thought so.

  3. Hi Lindsay.  The opinions of our team members do not represent that of our company nor our community of global members.  We’ll do a better job of making it clear that personal opinions are that and don’t represent our company and our mission.

    1. As I said on Twitter, I ::very much:: appreciate your response. I still can’t justify supporting a company whose creative director (in this case, someone very much influential in the actual site/product, I’m sure), holds such opinions and behaves in such a way. And like I said on Twitter, I AM torn. It’s not like ::YOU:: made these statements, and I like your products themselves… but this situation is just mind-bogglingly inappropriate — in my mind– for a representative (even by proxy, via social media) of a company. Does that make sense?

    2. But your team members *do* represent your company & your community of global  members, for better or for worse.  As their employer, you have the responsibility to make it clear that their opinions, when made public, will always reflect on you and that you require a certain standard of social (online media or otherwise) behaviour.

  4. Incredible.  “Your loss quite rankly?”  REALLY???? 
    Unreal.  Not only should he remove his company’s name from his Twitter profile, he should also be removed from his job.  Why?  See that response.  That’s never a good way to respond to a pissed off customer. 

  5. “Your loss, quite frankly.” 
    Did he just say that?

    He should be fired.  This is the world’s worst response to a difficult customer issue. 

    Dude.. really? Not only are politics none of our business, your “business” affiliation should have no place in politics.  Sad man you are.

  6. DisappointedLALady

    If you have your company name in your ‘bio’ or ‘profile’ or whatever – I associate what you say with the company because they chose to hire you & they chose to let you represent them. And regardless of people choosing no longer to use the Colour Lovers site – they will now loose new customers they could have gained…all in all, a MAJOR PR fail on Moynihan’s part. This will pop up in google searches of his name, Colour Lovers, etc. It only hurts him & the company that employees him in the end. Yikes.

  7. While I agree with keeping one’s political and or religious beliefs out of business, I feel the need to bring light to the hypocritical air of this post.  Simply mentioning Mr. Moynihan’s tweet publicly displayed your stance on a hot issue.  I actually believe you took it one step further by posting the entire twitter conversation on your blog.  Every man is entitled to his own opinion, and if you choose to avoid a product because you disagree with an individual’s comment that is your choice.  I understand you were upset by his statement, but I am sure there are other means of expressing this sentiment.  A letter to the company generally works wonders, and there is no harm in sharing your opinion when asked.  But to publicly flog a company flaunting your own political stance while doing so is just hypocritical.  As a woman, I happen to see Mr. Moynihan’s side of this issue, and you have brought to my attention a company I was unfamiliar with.  So today while colourlovers might have lost a customer, they have also gained at least one…probably not the response you expected.  Next time you are so fired up about an issue, you might want to wait before you respond so publicly.    

    1. I don’t believe people need to keep their beliefs out of business, precisely. What I DO believe is that, when you’re acting as a representative of a business- as SM was doing- that you need to be aware that you are speaking as such. I have my twitter account associated with my business, as is my blog– and I am 110% related that people may read something personal on either of those and decide not to work with me as a result. That’s a risk I choose to take.
      I don’t think posting this is hypocritical in the least. As someone immersed in social media and the internet, I believe that knowledge is the most important thing, particularly when it comes to making informed decisions about where we take our business… and this information often comes straight from the horses mouth, as it were. SM brought this into the open when he tweeted his opinion– had he said that in a personal conversation, that would have been a different set of circumstances. However, my choosing to discontinue using the company that he makes decisions at because I disagree with his VERY public statements, and explaining why I did so in the same public forum? No more “out there” than his original tweets (or his following statements where he declared any woman who’s had an abortion a murderer).

      Am I fired up? Certainly. I don’t agree with his opinion, and I don’t like supporting companies/people whose opinions I disagree with so strongly. Did that cloud my judgment in choosing to write an articulate response and have a dialogue with the company’s founder? Not at all. It’s 2012- when you post something like that on the internet, people are going to respond in kind.

      1. I completely agree with you on this!  thank you so much for bringing it to my attention yesterday.  I also got some tweets from the founder of ColourLovers, and I really do feel for the guy.  There’s a reason why I don’t associate my DAY JOB with my side-gig’s twitter and politics.  While my boss knows my political leanings (and disagrees with them, actually), I don’t LINK to my employer’s social media presence. Just as I know that I make the conscious decision not to take clients who I disagree with, I have no problems knowing that people will choose not to work with my blog (or me, as a copywriter) based on my politics.  Politics ARE personal, and I won’t step away from them.

  8. Although I couldn’t disagree more with him, he is most certainly entitled to his own opinion…. however, you can’t post something on an account affiliated with a business and not expect people to connect the two… come on now. This is the EXACT REASON why I have TWO twitter accounts. One where I post whatever random things come to mind and one that I use “professionally.” I would NEVER post about a topic so sensitive on my professional account.

  9. Lindsay, when you find some Twitter background alternatives can you post them in a roundup? I’m removing my Themeleon profile right now…. 
    And I deleted my profile on their site, I’ll stick to other sites, mostly because of their responses to you… too little too late..

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