In only 24 hours, between 15 and 16 March 2015, the viral protest kicked off by Elton John via Instagram against the designer duo Dolce&Gabbana who had defended the idea of traditional family, has produced 29,000 tweets that may have reached a potential audience of 50.3 million users (obtained by adding the number of followers who tweeted and retweeted the hash tag #boycottdolcegabbana, source: Reputation Manager, Italy).

In an interview with Italian newspaper Panorama, the designer duo had stated to oppose gay adoptions and referred to children born via egg donors or artificial insemination as “children of chemistry, synthetic children”. Elton John himself has had two children with his husband David Furnish through in vitro fertilization.

His call to boycott the designer label found quick spread amongst high-advocacy celebrities and VIPs. Most retweeted was Ricky Martin’s Twitter post: “@dolcegabbana ur voices R 2powerfull 2B spreading so much h8. Wake up, Its 2015 Luv urselves guys #boycottdolcegabbana”.

Director Ryan Murphy sent out a highly insulting tweet: “These designers horrifying views are never in fashion. Their clothes are as ugly as their hate. #BoycottDolceGabbana”.

Courtney Love posted an image on Instagram with the subtitle: “I just round up all my Dolce & Gabbana items and want to burn them. I’m just beyond words and emotions. Boycott senseless gibotry! #boycottD&G”.

Despite Stefano Gabbana had sent out his reply via Instagram pointing out how respect for each other’s ideas is fundamental, what strikes most is that in a few hours a few words on a highly sensible topic can be highly damaging and ruin anyone’s reputation at a global level. Social media can be immensely helpful for increasing one’s visibility, though can hurt just as much. Every social media user has an immense power – and brands and its leaders must be aware of it.