Tag Archives: PR Fumbles

ChapStick vs. Carmex- A social media competitive assessment

4 Mar

This is my assessment of the way ChapStick, (I chose them in spite of their PR/Social media disaster of last fall) and Carmex are  using  social media as of Spring 2011. As part of an assignment for my Social Media Insights class we were asked to choose an industry and pick 2 companies that compete in that industry that are using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and compare and contrast how each company uses these tools.

I found it interesting that ChapStick doesn’t have a twitter handle at all, but I am impressed with some of the things that they do on their other platforms. Both companies seem to be targeting anyone who is a regular user of the product. A lot of ChapStick’s and Carmex’s content focuses on contests to win free product or on encouraging customers to share their experiences with the product. These brands are trying to build fan loyalty, not create new fans. For ChapStick, the objective seems to be to increase awareness of limited edition flavors by encouraging customers to share their favorites and to introduce them to something new. Since lip balm is a product that you can use multiples of at one time (one is a purse, your car, at your desk, etc), promoting all the different flavors will encourage additional purchases. Carmex’s business objective seems more focused on just pushing Carmex as a whole brand instead of focusing on the individual products as sub-brands. They’re objective seems to be increasing loyalty to Carmex by encouraging customers to visit social media sites for chances to win free product.


In an effort to get more Likes, Carmex is running a “75 years with 750,000 fans Carmex Collection” Giveaway. You have to like the page, submit a form, and then you have the option to publish the giveaway on your FB page.  Carmex also has a graph showing their likes so far and their goal. By giving away a decently large amount of their basic products, they’re obviously targeting people who are committed users of Carmex. I thought it was interesting that they make it optional to share the competition. They are clearly more focused on getting Likes than on getting interaction. It might have been better if they had made the contestants write a post on the Carmex wall telling where and when they use Carmex the most (i.e. When skiing, at the movies, on the train, etc); this would have gotten more discussion going about the brand. I like the idea that they’re tying this to celebrating something, instead of just trying to get likes in general. It makes the campaign feel more genuine and less like a gimmick. When reading some of the Carmex posts on their wall, I got really bored. Most of the posts were either spamming of promoting contests or saying “congratulations to our winners…”  There was nothing really worth looking at (although they did look like some cool contests/prizes). If I were a fan of the page, I might check it fairly regularly to see if there was a contest I could enter, but I would not write on the wall or feel more inclined to purchase the product.

Carmex Facebook contest

On ChapStick’s FB page they are promoting their new limited edition flavors in a variety of ways. They ran a “Send a Kiss” Valentine’s thing that wasn’t really a promotion, but it encouraged fans to interact with the brand.

Chapstick Facebook post

They also occasionally do free giveaways, but it’s not the focus of the page. Most of their posts are great interactive questions to fans. “ChapStick fans always have a backup flavor. What’s your number 2?” or “Name a President and name the ChapStick® that you believe was his favorite, or would have been his favorite! Go!” or  “If ChapSticks® co-mingled, which two flavors would you want to see hook up?” Sometimes the questions have absolutely nothing to do with ChapStick, but they’re hot discussion topics so the fans will spend time on the page talking about them anyways. Recent posts include “What do you think of reality TV–love it or hate it?” “Which celeb has the best looking lips?” (This question had 159 likes and 248 comments) another “Fill in the Blank Friday, you know the drill! It’s Friday night and I’m _______________.” The questions ChapStick posts are almost water cooler topics that people might talk about at work. It makes the brand feel more like a friend posting this on their wall than a company.


Carmex redeems its overzealous contest promotion on its FB page with its Twitter account. On Twitter they interact with fans more, answering questions, responding to complaints, and thanking fans for compliments. They retweet good things fans say (but they do it as RT instead of hitting the button, so it looks like a tweet from Carmex and not the follower). They encouraged fans to interact with the brand via their LeBron James partnership. People tweeted things like “I use @Carmex just like #TeamLeBron. My Terrific Tuesday game depends on it. #TeamCarmex http://bit.ly/vz7FNm” Basically they were only changing what their “game” was that depends on Carmex and including the link to the LeBron/Carmex page. The RTs of these fan tweets are all over the Carmex page near the end of January and into February so it seems like it was a popular trend. Very few tweets from Carmex were unique content that was not a response to someone else or a contest announcement. After being so underwhelmed with their FB page, it was nice to see more involvement with the Twitter handle.

ChapStick has an @ChapStick handle but it’s got a person’s name attached to it, has 35 followers and no tweets. Sad.


Chapstick’s YouTube channel looks impressive at a glance. They have a background with pictures of the different flavors and the same lips image shown above that they’ve got all over their Facebook page. The two pages are cohesive and display the brand nicely. I then noticed that there’s been no activity on the channel for 4 months. Not good.  It looks like last fall they did a “Sing your love for ChapStick” competition so some of the videos from that are posted, but nothing since then. They do have some featured 15-second videos that are set up as interviews on the street asking people “where is your ChapStick now” and “Who is the ChapStick thief in your life.” These are cute, but are obviously staged and a bit commercial-y. There are not very many comments on the channel and none of them are by ChapStick. They do have a referral to their FB page that keeps a real-time count of how many Likes they have.

Chapstick Facebook likes

Carmex’s channel is a little less showy than ChapStick’s. The background is their signature yellow color, but the channel almost looks like a fan and not the company might run it. Their latest activity was back in October, and since they joined in 2006, they have only posted 4 videos; one is a 4-minute tour of their labs, one is an announcement of their new skin-care product. One from 2008 is a 1 ½ minute TV commercial with this copy under it “Do you have a unique Carmex story to share? Why do you think people love Carmex so much? How do you share the tingle? Well, break out your video camera or cell phone (and some Carmex!) and show us your movie making magic. Enter your video (under three minutes) and we’ll reward the most promising up and coming film-makers with $5,000 or other fabulous prizes! Videos will be judged on creativity (“tingliness”), humor, overall appeal and popular vote in case of a tie.”
There doesn’t seem to be much follow-up on the page from that promotion and there’s been nothing like it since then.

Both of these brands have a lot of room for improvement in their social media customer interactions. I applaud them for having YouTube channels, but both of them really need to refocus on making the channels valuable. I am very surprised that ChapStick doesn’t have a Twitter, but at the same time the conversational tone of their Facebook page covers a lot of the same content that a Twitter handle would. Since they focus so much on the visual of each new flavor or difference in product benefit, it makes sense for ChapStick as a brand to focus their attention on FB where they can post pictures that are easy to see than on Twitter.

Carmex redeemed their weak Facebook page with their Twitter handle, but then was very disappointing in their YouTube channel. I’d say that in the end ChapStick wins out, mainly because they seem to be working very hard to provide clever and fresh, relevant content on their Facebook page. I loved the question about “Name a President and what ChapStick flavor they would use.” They weren’t blatantly pushing their brand, but it did encourage fans to stop and really think about the different products they offer. In reading the comments other fans made, I realized that there are some flavors out there that I wasn’t even aware of. So ChapStick wins this contest, but due to their PR/Facebook debacle last fall only by a margin. (They still use the phrase “Be heard on Facebook” but they seem to have learned that they can’t say that and then delete peoples’ comments.)


Introducing: Thirsty Thursdays!!!

3 Nov

I decided I need to add some sort of regularity to this blog, and instead of feeding it a Jamie Lee Curtis-promoted yogurt, I came up with Thirsty Thursdays. On Thursdays I will post any interesting blog posts, tweets, articles, or anything else that people thirsty for marketing/PR insights would (hopefully) be interested in reading.

On today’s list:  Chapstick. Yes, instead of writing about Kim Kardashian, I’d rather talk about Chapstick…it contributes much more to society. Chapstick posted an ad of a woman climbing up over a couch with her butt up in the air and the phrase “Where do lost Chapsticks go? Be heard at facebook.com/chapstick”. (if you click the link above you can see the ad). Well of course some people with dry lips and no sense of humor got angry at the ad and decided to share their opinions on the FB page, which Chapstick promptly DELETED.

There’s quite a few things that make this a PR disaster, but for me the number 1 is the fact that their ad campaign is based on fans sharing their Chapstick experiences and “being heard”, which is not something you can do if your comments get deleted. As I’ve learned in my advertising class, (and what I guess we all sort of know) is that a LOT of time and thought goes into EVERY aspect of an ad. Some college kid didn’t just stand up and say “hey, let’s do an ad with a picture of a butt on it! It’ll be hilarious” Chapstick researched their audience, especially their customers on Facebook and determined that this was their type of humor and that it would have an impact and that their tagline about FB would encourage brand engagement; they just weren’t ready for negative engagement.

Someone at Chapstick dropped the ball when it comes to their social media planning. While they may have chosen the ad based on target research, they had to have known that they were taking a little bit of a risk with this ad and should have had a social media management plan ready. When people did start to really dig in with unfavorable comments they should have either removed the ad or made a statement in defense of it and let the comments be. Instead they sneakily removed angry comments and then after that made the further mistake of hiding it behind the curtain of “Facebook guidelines” on inappropriate postings and spam.  Again, once they’d made the taken the risk deleting the comments and gotten backlash, they should have stood behind their actions (at the very least, although it would not have been the best idea) or fessed up and gave their audience a real apology.

Lesson to be learned? If you’re going to push the message of “be heard with our brand” then you have to be ready to hear bad things. You can’t erase them and pretend they never existed, this is NOT transparency.

On the topic of things that I love and can’t live without (I’ve been painting my blue tube of Chapstick on my lips throughout the writing of this post), Canadian band Our Lady Peace has been getting some fan backlash after their recent participating and support of the Occupy movement. As someone who’s been obsessed with OLP for a very long time, who loves ALL of their music, I really don’t understand how a person could call themselves  a “fan” and have no idea that they’re a band with certain political viewpoints and humanitarian beliefs. I mean, have these “fans’ actually LISTENED to any of their songs??

I personally think that OLP has done a wonderful job of capturing the feel of the movement in their video and free download Fight the Good Fight available at ourladypeace.net (sorry, I just couldn’t resist a plug for them). The band has always been transparent in sharing their personal politics and organizations that they support. While some of the backlash has come from people accusing them of being part of the “1%”  but out of any musician/celebrity figure getting involved in this, OLP is the perfect balance. In 2007 they left their record label, taking a huge risk of falling into obscurity to start producing themselves on their own terms, starting with their 2009 album “Burn Burn”. Lead singer Raine Maida is a vehement supporter of  War Child and Drummer Jeremy Taggart has been very vocal in protesting the digging of a Mega Quarry northwest of Toronto that would drastically effect the agricultural and environmental wellness of the area and hurt the Toronto area’s water supply and in participating in FoodStock, a fundraiser to help prevent said Quarry.

Our Lady Peace

Me and Jeremy Taggart after their 8/22/09 show at the Vic in Chicago

I think that writing a song and promoting it as a free download on their website was a perfect way to explain their involvement in the Occupy movement. The video was tastefully done and as Raine points out in the article “And Maida admits that it has occasionally been difficult for observers to figure out exactly what the protesters are opposing, noting that the “right language hasn’t gotten out there yet.””

Those are my thoughts for today, I hope your thirst is quenched for the time being. And go download the OLP song please, they really are fantastic.

**UPDATE*** Here’s a Op Ed written by Raine to the Globe & Mail .

There’s such a stong focus these days on brand transparency that a brand risks quite a bit when it tries to hide even small things. While I hate to use the word “brand” when describing OLP, they do have an image and a message that they put out in their music and their actions and movements they support are aligned with it. So if you’ve been paying attention, nothing that they do should come as a suprise.

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