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WebiMax Blog

Digital marketing tips and advice.

The Chapstick Brand Management Nightmare and How NOT to Use Social Media

Patty Ryan, August 29, 2012

How can lip balm be controversial? Just ask Chapstick - they've managed to offend a lot of people with the image they chose for a new advertisement and, moreover, how they chose to deal with the backlash on their Facebook page.

Chapstick is the latest example of a brand mishandling negativity over a new advertising campaign – a prime example of how NOT to use social media when it comes to managing your reputation online.

What many companies don’t realize is that, for the most part, Americans are a forgiving group of people. We watched as Britney Spears fell from grace, but now she’s a judge on the popular television show X Factor with millions of people rooting her on. Michael Vick was involved in an illegal dog fighting ring and served time in jail for the conviction, but now he’s the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles with a strong fan-base. Chris Brown was charged with felony assault for beating his girlfriend, pop star Rihanna, but he continues to be a celebrated member of hip hop community.

What do these three people have in common? They all admitted their mistakes, apologized, asked for forgiveness, and explained to the public how they plan on changing their lives for the better. Any publicist will tell you that trying to cover up a controversial event will only make matters worse. Owning their actions and taking responsibility for their mistakes is the only way that celebrities or famous athletes can begin to repair their relationships with the American public – and that goes for brands, too, not just people.

So when Chapstick ran this ad -

- featuring a woman bent over the back of a couch looking for her lost Chapstick (we know where they were going with this ad: read Dan’s latest post about how sex sells in the marketing world), and they received criticism on their Facebook page by people who found it offensive, did they take ownership? How did they handle the backlash?

They deleted the comments. Big brand management no-no.

To make matters worse, in bold letters at the bottom of the ad it says “BE HEARD AT FACEBOOK.COM/CHAPSTICK.” Perhaps a more accurate call-to-action would’ve been “be heard – as long as it puts our brand in a positive light.”

If Chapstick wants to use social media as a place where consumers can go to give their honest feedback and “be heard,” they’ll need to be prepared to take the bad with the good. Here are my two pieces of advice for Chapstick, or any brand that is faced with a similar situation:

  1. Listen to people’s complaints, and apologize to those you have offended on your Facebook page where the public can see your response.
  2. Be prepared to handle criticisms as well as praise & approval whenever you launch a new campaign – especially if you direct readers to your Facebook page where consumer feedback is a fundamental part of social media for businesses.

What do you think about Chapstick’s decision to delete negative comments from their Facebook page? Join the conversation on Twitter using #brandchat or email me at pryan[AT]webimax.com.

Need an Expert Contributor?

Ken Wisnefski is a seasoned web entrepreneur and a frequent contributor to news outlets and business publications. Ken’s vast knowledge of how to make online businesses succeed has made him a sought after consultant from businesses wishing to improve their online initiatives. Contact pr@webimax.com to collaborate!


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