Bic Cause You’re Worth It

When we go on holiday, one of the things that my wife and I enjoy most is a game of chess. It is a nice way to unwind, and keep the mind active, and we’re both at a similar level so that there is a nice element of competition. In chess, it is vital that you don’t take your finger off your piece until you’re absolutely certain of the consequences. In many ways the same is true of communications; don’t put anything into the public domain until you are certain of the consequences.

Last Sunday marked ‘National Women’s Day’ in South Africa, an annual celebration commemorating the 1956 march of more than 20,000 women of all races protesting against the segregationist ‘pass laws’. In order to pay tribute to National Women’s Day Bic, the pen manufacturer, posted the following, ’empowering message’ on its Facebook page: “Look like a girl. Act like a lady. Think like a man. Work like a boss”.

Now I presume that no one at Bic looked at this post before pressing ‘upload’, at least I hope that was the case, as it’s hard to believe that anyone could have thought this was a positive marketing move.

Unsurprisingly, the reaction to this post was less than enthusiastic. Rather than viewing the message as a celebration of women’s contribution to society, many people expressed outrage that Bic was suggesting that in order to succeed women should, ‘think like a man’.

Following the outrage on social media, Bic took down the post, and two days later (two days) issued an ‘apology’, in which the company appeared to be justifying the post, including a link to a ‘Women in Business’ blog from which the quote was taken.

This apology was then, in itself, deleted and replaced by a much more straight forward apology with Bic saying that it was ‘incredibly sorry for offending everybody’, and promising that ‘something like this will never happen again’.

It is hard to believe that anyone fully considered the implications of the post before pressing ‘send.’ Not only was the original post seen by many as being massively offensive, but the slow response to take it down, and the initial poorly worded apology suggest that company wasn’t aware of the potential damage the incident could have on its reputation.

In communications, after a message has been sent it can never be retrieved. As in chess you should never take your finger off the piece before considering the consequences of your actions.

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