I almost don’t know where to begin with this one… so first, I’ll show Chapstick’s most recent ad:
Okay, now that you’ve seen the advertisement, AdWeek writes a great article summing up all the shenanigans that ensued upon the advertisement’s release. Mainly, the ad encourages people to go to Facebook, and they do. They speak their mind (some politely and constructively, and most likely some not so friendly). Chapstick proceeds to delete many comments and flounders a bit as it tries to issue explanations for the deletions as well as the advertisement itself.
So what’s my take?
First, I’m a male in my 30’s and probably one of the targets of this ad which most likely appeals to women just as much as men. And creating brand awareness is what advertising is all about – and now we (people who write long winded blog posts on the internet who have a combine readership of about 5 people), are talking about it – generating a MASSIVE amount of earned media for Chapstick. Is it all good? They say any press is good press… and in this case, I would agree. The negative press is more related to Chapstick’s handling of the feedback versus the ad itself. Sure, some people are going to be offended by sexually-suggestive advertising, especially in the US which tends to be more conservative in this area. But we’re not seeing even a boob in this ad… just a clothed derriere. So I think people need to be a little less sensitive.
In my opinion the ad is creative and fun… and those of us who use Chapstick (myself included, though I tend to be brand agnostic when it comes to my lip protectors), I don’t think I have ever used up a whole tube of Chapstick before either throwing it out because it has a date from the prior decade, or losing it. And, based upon the number of tubes I purchase annually for my beautiful and intelligent wife, she either uses it once a minute, or suffers from the same problem the woman in this ad does; frequent-loss-of-chapstick-syndrome. I tend to find tubes in the bottom of backpacks, purses, suitcases; in glove boxes, junk drawers; in couch cushions and medicine cabinets, and of course winter jacket pockets.
But let’s get to the heart of the matter, what Chapstick really screwed up – its social media team/response. As the team started observing a larger number of comments coming in to its Facebook page, they should have had a better triage and response procedure. Criticism is a part of any business, and you should be willing to accept it. And via social media, your policy should be to acknowledge, empathize and if necessary, address. In this case, Chapstick should have delete any posts that were clear violations – over posting/spam, foul language or harassing in nature. If it saw a large number of these, it should have posted a notice on its page very quickly explaining its policy. “Please understand that do want to hear from customers about this advertisement and anything else related to their use of Chapstick, but please be respectful of others and the community. If your comments are deemed disrespectful or foul, we will remove them.”
And you usually do not want to be defensive in social media, as the community and really tear you apart… so on that issue, be particularly careful. Let the community have its debate. Your supports will defend you if you have a solid customer base and product.
If you really did screw up in your advertisement, or in a related area, it is extremely important that you have a rock-solid escalation policy so that issues can bubble up the chain of command efficiently and consistently. The last thing you want to happen is to issue a statement that isn’t convincing or credible – the community will see right through it. (Take the New England Patriots for instance, in response to QB Tom Brady’s “drinking comments“). Don’t think your customers, especially the ones on Facebook are dumb. That strategy will not be successful.
So, if you need to issue a clarify statement, or even the dreaded “mea culpa” then you only want to do this once. And, be prepared for comments about your admission. You will receive feedback.
Chapstick has a legacy of quirky, cutesy, and slightly-suggestive advertising. It works. And this latest ad worked too, but the social media team got in the way.