Bic pens ‘for her’
Bic have supposedly scored a whopping own goal with their range of pastel tinted slim-line ‘for her’ pens. Amazon has seen a carpet-bombing of consumer reviews that sarcastically react to this crass piece of branding…
“I was recently given a box of these as a gift from my husband, but I have no idea what to do with them! They’re too thin to make a good rolling pin. I can’t ladle out my soups with them,” read one of the many witty and spirited reviews. I say this is a ‘supposed’ own goal, because while the buzz might be negative it’s still a lot more publicity for a new Bic pen range than they might reasonably have expected to achieve. They are probably being brandished by ironic hipsters all over town.
In truth the actual product is not so dumb. Research shows there are significantly less colour-blind women than there are men. That more women can name a favourite colour and many more colours than men. That they are just more colour aware and colour literate. One theory on why takes this all back to cavewomen needing a keen eye for nuance when they were picking ripe berries (while hubby was off hunting mammoths). Perhaps. But wanting a pastel Bic does not make someone an idiot. However writing ‘for her’ on the pack does brand the consumer as such.
What possessed them to do it? My hunch is that the marketers didn’t trust the consumer’s intelligence enough to believe they could see something they liked and simply buy it. So the marketing team thought they had better telegraph this product was aimed at by hanging a big sign off it. They are not the only great global brand that have been so crass. When Pepsi ‘0’ designed a can that aesthetically reflected the products diet benefit, it made sense. When they called it the skinny can then aggrieved women unleashed hell online. I am unaware of any such venom being aimed at the Fiat 500 in candy pink. Possibly because it wasn’t called the airhead edition. Although the ‘doll’ advertising probably didn’t help.
I guess one conclusion is it’s ok to design with an audience in mind. Just don’t label the results so obviously. Calling out your strategy is a sure fire way to loose friends and alienate people.