This ad for Chapstick’s “Where Do Lost Chapstick’s Go?” was accused of being sexist, and outraged women flocked to Chapstick’s Facebook page to protest (via copyranter).
What happened then? Blogger and Reel Girl founder Margot Magowan is in the middle of the controversy. She wrote on SFGate:
Well, apparently Chapstick feels we have no right to comment on it, even when they invite us to “BE HEARD” in their ad copy. All attempts at protesting their use of a bent-over woman’s arse to sell their “hide and seek with Chapstick” message were immediately removed from Chapstick’s Facebook page.
You would think this would be outrageous enough, and yet it gets much more interesting: men who want to BE HEARD on the site making comments like “after looking at this pic i know right where i wanna hide my chapstick” do not get censored by the company.
And with that, issue is no longer about the ad itself (which is still running on the Chapstick site, for what it’s worth). It’s about how they dealt with the situation.
Social media is supposed to be a way to communicate with your customers — when you shut that channel down simply because they disagree with you, you totally negate the point of having it in the first place.
Deleting those comments served no purpose for Chapstick but to cause itself PR problems. It’s the Internet — even if you delete something, it’ll appear somewhere, somehow. True to form, many of the comments that Chapstick deleted were compiled by protesters on a new Facebook page (the screenshots show that most were void of profanity and civil).
What should Chapstick have done?
Brands like Chapstick have to learn to accept the negative with the positive, especially in a world with social media. By simply opening a dialogue with those angered and listening to their complaint, this could’ve been avoided. And the folks at Chapstick would’ve generated some goodwill, showing that they actually give a crap about what people think.
But no. They did the exact opposite, giving the perception that the brand doesn’t care.
UPDATE: Pfizer (which owns Chapstick) has now pulled the offending Chapstick ad (from both Facebook and the Chapstick website) and delivered this strange semi-apology:
We see that not everyone likes our new ad, and please know that we certainly didn’t mean to offend anyone! Our fans and their voices are at the heart of our new advertising campaign, but we know we don’t always get it right. We’ve removed the image and will share a newer ad with our fans soon!
We apologise that fans have felt like their posts are being deleted and while we never intend to pull anyone’s comments off our wall, we do comply with Facebook guidelines and remove posts that use foul language, have repetitive messaging, those that are considered spam-like (multiple posts from a person within a short period of time) and are menacing to fans and employees.
How do you ‘feel’ like your posts are getting deleted? They’re either deleted, or not deleted. And telling those already riled-up commenters that its their fault for getting all those supposedly profanity-laced, spammy comments removed?
As commenter Angelique Briand points out in the newest thread:
But the reality is Chapstick ALSO did remove comments that expressed dislike of the ad where no profanity or threats were used. So it wasn’t just about complying with Facebook rules, Chapstick. Be truthful!
It’s hard to contest Briand’s claim with the evidence collected on this Facebook page, and denying it just digs the hole deeper and deeper.
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