After ChapStick’s apology to women who “felt like” their posts about a sexist ad were being deleted from the company’s Facebook page, Forbes.com contributor Samantha Ettus suggests a more effective “dream” apology from the company:
“We are so sorry for using poor judgment in putting up this ad. Thanks to social media, our awareness of the reaction emerged speedily and we were able to respond immediately by taking it down. Our consciousness has been raised and for that we are grateful. We have taken this lesson to heart and will not be creating any advertising that is or could be construed as objectifying women in any way. Just like you might forgive an old friend who messes up for the first time, I hope that you will return to us, unscathed from our mishap. Thanks for your understanding.”
WOW, can you imagine? If ChapStick did that, I’d be giving it out on Halloween.
Ettus, a personal branding expert, writes that ChapStick has always been associated with strong women– from the Suzy ChapStick ads, where Suzy was highlighted for her athleticism, to other athletes/ spokespeople such as Olympic skier Picabo Street and ice skater Dorothy Hamill.
What happened to make a brand with a loyal, lifelong following of female customers who buy ChapStick for themselves and their kids, shift its marketing strategy so dramatically?
Chapstick’s ads have always been empowering for women. The real question is how they arrived at this point today. Now that Chapstick is owned by Pfizer, I’m envisioning the Viagra advertising team – a few young ad men unfamiliar with the history of the Chapstick brand – creating this off-brand ad. And then finally, the apology from Pfizer spokesman Ray Kerins as quoted in The Wall Street Journal: “This is a good example of us hearing what people have to say, making a determination and taking action,” he said. No real apology at all. Like a child forced to say sorry with no understanding of how this might translate into a similar future scenario, is Chapstick destined to repeat its recent history?