Dorothy Crenshaw August 31, 2012 | 04:09:23

Bic Pen "For Her" Draws Mixed PR

In the past few days, lots of ink has been spilled – literally and digitally – about the hundreds customer reviews posted for Bic “For Her,” a line of pens marketed to women. Now, you might think the brand is elated to receive such an active response to a product, especially a year after its launch. But these comments are snarky sendups written to sound like reviews from helpless, housebound females cooing over pink and purple pens. Women (and some men) have really piled on; there are nearly 400 faux reviews on amazon, and some are truly hilarious.

My favorite (clean) ones: “The ink in my new Bic pen is made of sugar and spice and my “i’s” are automatically dotted with hearts!” and “I thought it was a kitten, then some words came out! Wonderful!” There are many others not reproducible here, but you can catch them on Tumblr.

The sarcastic outpouring from those who took offense to the lady-colored pens reminds me a little of the reaction to a line of pink Dell netbooks targeted to females. The color and positioning wasn’t illogical, because there was a breast cancer tie-in. But the products were baked into a website called “Della” that featured elementary tech tips for women. I know, – silly. Della sparked snark from women who felt patronized by the products and their positioning, and whole thing was short-lived.

In this case, I’m not sure the sarcastic response is bad for the brand. The comments are entertaining, and the whole girl-storm could be a blessing in disguise. Yes, it was a bit heavy handed, but attention like this is nearly always an opportunity.

Are you listening, Bic? They should read the (hand)writing on the wall and seize the moment. They can write things off with a simple apology for the branding. Or go out with a lighthearted mea culpa, maybe coupled with a promotional offer. A downloadable coupon and “handwritten” personalized apology note? A Facebook tribute to Women Who Write The Rules? A gag line of rugged pens for men?

This begs for something like “Triple Sorry,” created by J&J’s ob brand. When women sounded off after ob discontinued a favorite item, the brand apologized with an over-the-top, personalized video featuring a crooning boyfriend type. It was a perfect response because it acknowledged the situation but defused it with humor, – while building a customer email marketing list. Genius.

Bic’s move has unleashed some real creativity from regular people, and maybe it can use that to remind us that our scribbles – digital or otherwise – are inspiring or funny. Not to put too fine a point on it, but a little clever PR can generate positive ink and even make a brand more relevant than it was before.

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