The day I learned I have monstrous handsBy Laura Bedrossian
Today’s post was originally published on Peppercom’s PepperDigital blog.
Every once-in-a-while a marketing/ad team just gets a new product so right. Consumers love the product, the messaging is fantastic and, overall, you wish you and your team had come up with the campaign.
This is not one of those times.
A few days ago I stumbled upon the Amazon.com page for a new writing product from BiC—Cristal for Her. Immediately I was intrigued, because how can a pen be “for her?” Apparently the colors have to be lighter and more sparkly, the weight of the pen must be noticeably lighter and the grip has to be, um, more ladylike.
For reasons I won’t completely bore you with, especially since if you’re above the age of 10, you can see the issue with the product itself. I was fuming just from reading the description of the product.
And I wasn’t alone.
One thing the marketing/ad/PR/apparently the whole company completely forgot about was not just the general public’s reaction to such a ridiculous product, was that, in the digital age, that reaction would get much attention and quickly.
Think about the firestorm you’re creating—you’re offending both men and women:
1) I personally can use a normal pen just fine and suspect a lightweight smaller grip will hinder my writing, not help. The natural conclusion for me is that if this pen is for women and I am a woman, then I must have monstrous hands. Also why do I need a pen “for her”?
2) Men with smaller hands or who like sparkly colors who could potentially want to use this product were just told that it’s a product for women.
And this is just the tip of the offensive iceberg—talk about alienating an entire consumer base.
But these same opinions and many more were mirrored on Twitter, on the Amazon.com reviews and pretty much anywhere an Internet goer can go and quickly.
BiC’s major error was not listening to its audience before creating the product. Peppercom’s go-to-market strategy has completely changed thanks, in large part, to Emily Yellin and her insistence that with new campaigns, etc. we listen to both the client and the client’s audience before implementing a plan. If BiC had done the same thing, they wouldn’t have to include sarcastic comment reviews titled “I’m writing this from the kitchen while making a sandwich for my husband” in their reports about the product. Though, I bet the reports would be pretty funny.
This was definitely not a good move for BiC and they should think about not just apologizing to women, but to the world for such a sexist marketing ploy. But a positive did come out of this; we were again reminded that for better or for worse, social media will spread our ideas (good or bad) in a matter of minutes. This is why marketing/ad/PR pros need to consider all ramifications of a new product or campaign. And, I’ll be completely honest, I would pay money to go back in time and sit in on the meeting to know who green lit this product’s campaign.
If you haven’t already, check out the reviews of this product. I’ll just go off with my monstrous hands and try to make it through the day knowing I’m using a pen designed for a man.