Lululemon announced this week that it has partnered with the Dalai Lama Center for Peace + Education—with a donation of $750,000 over the next three year’s to support the center.
“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 a release.
Beyond financial support, it is pretty unclear what the two plan to do together, though the CEO of the center said in the release: “We are grateful for the support from Lululemon to engage our community and look forward to working together to promote ‘education of the heart,’ which results in more peaceful, secure, engaged and compassionate children.”
Well, it didn’t take long for people to become pretty darn upset about this—wondering why the Dalai Lama, renowned for his advocacy of the poor, would team up with a corporation, let alone one that hawks $100 yoga pants.
“Some people are disgusted by it; some people think it’s really bizarre,” Jennilyn Carson, founder of YogaDork.com, told The Globe and Mail. “Lululemon has had some interesting and questionable marketing tactics in the past years.”
On Lululemon’s blog, the comments got pretty ugly, including one particularly biting one that reads: “There are people in this world who have suffered and some died for their beliefs in the practices and philosophies that the Dalai Lama embodies. His image is sacred to them and you have the audacity to post this on the same page where you brand your tights and tanks and yoga wear. Shame on you.”
Of course, the flip side of this is, a donation is a donation, which is how some are interpreting the partnership. “Lululemon might just be the coolest company ever #dalailama #centerforpeace read.sweat.repeat,” one supporter tweeted.
This latest controversy is just one in a long line of PR gaffes that Lululemon has faced in recent years, between having to recall sheer yoga pants, to dealing with its founder Chip Wilson drawing fire for fat shaming comments.
Let us know where you stand on this partnership! Share your thoughts in the comments!