Happy Women’s Day! Now…Go Think Like a Man. #BicFail

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GUYS, if you are considering a popular (albeit somewhat over-used) empowerment message for women in your next marketing campaign, please take note:

Women do not aspire to be a man, act like a man or think like a man, but merely to be respected as a human. 

Bic found this out after posting the above ad to their Facebook page on National Women’s Day in South Africa. In response to the immediate backlash from hundreds on social media, the ad was quickly removed along with all of the irate comments and replaced with an apology. Or rather, their “first” attempt at an apology:

We would like to apologize to all our fans who took offense to our recent Women’s Day Post. We can assure you that we meant it in the most empowering way possible and in no way derogatory towards women. We took the quote from a ‘Women in Business’ blog site. The blog site explains the quote and what its intentions were when it was written. BIC believes in celebrating women and the powerful contribution women make to our society.

Which only made things worse. To say, “We can assure you that we meant it in the most empowering way possible,” revealed that they still had no idea what they had done wrong. Hence, this apology was quickly removed, along with even more irate comments and replaced with a second apology:

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.

However, I am still not convinced they understand where they went wrong. It was not that the post should have never gone out, but that the culture should never have been conducive to have thought of it in the first place.

Plus, this is not really new for Bic. In 2012, they introduced the Bic for Her pens in the stereotypical female colors; pink and purple and  received massive negative feedback, including a spoof from Ellen shown in the video below.

Interestingly, South African’s National Women’s Day commemorates the 1956 march of more than 20,000 South African women of all races in protest against the proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act of 1950, commonly referred to as the “pass laws.” A song titled “Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock” was composed for the protest and in the 59 years since, this phrase has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa.

No “thinking like a man,” needed here.

While Bic pens are still selling, the question is, how many sales have been lost? How many sales will be lost? All, unnecessarily. All because they are simply not listening to their female customers. And considering just the few statistics noted below, that might not be wise.

  • 62% of women business owners question whether the companies they buy from understand their needs as business owners
  • 76% question whether most companies understand their needs as women
  • 55% of purchasing agents are women
  • 46% of purchasing managers are women

Beware. Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.

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Stephanie Holland, founder and author of Sheconomy® and agency owner for more than 30 years also served as the Executive Creative Director. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email

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