Bic Steps in it with Sexist #HappyWomensDay Ad

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    A bad decision made more damaging by poor crisis management

    Bic has long been criticized for its line of pens marketed toward women, called “Miss Bic” and Bic for Her”, but an ad the pen manufacturer created for South Africa’s Women’s Day pushed the disgust beyond sideline conversation and into the mainstream. Words really can’t do the outrageousness of this ad justice, so have a look:

    Bic Africa Look like a girl think like a man HappyWomensDay ad

    The backlash from all corners of the social media verse and web-at-large came immediately. Critics denounced the ad and the culture behind its creation, media outlets did the same, and competitors like Stabilo gleefully threw a little fuel on the fire:

    Bic South Africa did respond via its Facebook page, but it made a critical crisis management mistake in not matching the gravity of its initial error:

    Hi everyone. Let’s start out by saying we’re incredibly sorry for offending everybody – that was never our intention, but we completely understand where we’ve gone wrong. This post should never have gone out. The feedback you have given us will help us ensure that something like this will never happen again, and we appreciate that.

    The remark about appreciating the feedback is probably the best part of the statement, but it wasn’t nearly enough to overcome the lack of compassion and near-outright admission of incompetence readers were faced with. Such a weak response only served to further upset stakeholders and the negative responses continued unchecked.

    Of course, if Bic had used our service all this wasted spending, and lost reputation could’ve been avoided…just sayin’…

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is vice president for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]

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