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Is Lululemon’s partnership with the Dalai Lama generous or gross?


Lululemon doesn’t have a very good track record for avoiding controversy (think: accusations of shunning plus-sized customers and the too-sheer yoga pant apocalypse).

Its latest debacle? The yoga pant giant just partnered with the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education—promising to donate $750,000 over the next three years to the Vancouver-based organization for a “variety of initiatives including researching the connection between mind-body-heart and sharing the work globally,” the company said in a press release. And the good deed isn’t going unpunished.

Many people have commented on Lululemon’s blog (there were 71 as of Monday), expressing anger that the company is “exploiting” the Dalai Lama. And more such comments have been added to articles about this partnership on The Huffington Post and Jezebel. One commenter wrote, “I am put-off by LuluLemon’s bizarre effort to hijack the Dalai Lama for brand-building and commercial gain.”

That said, donating to charities is something companies do all the time—out of goodwill and/or for branding and tax purposes—and typically they’re commended for it. Given that the opposite has happened, in some ways, it seems like Lululemon has become a punching bag for people who are upset by the commercialism of yoga (which is everywhere, and not exclusive to Lulu). And if that’s the case, then is their donation—which will presumably help the organization do good work—really the problem?

What do you think of the partnership? Tell us, in the Comments, below! —Molly Gallagher