ChapStick Gets Itself in a Social Media Death Spiral

A brand's silent war against its Facebook fans

We're catching up on all the social media scandals today. The major one this week involves ChapStick—a brand whose marketing I don't recall ever making any sort of impact. Until now. Here's the play-by-play. ChapStick posts weird image on Facebook of a woman, backside in the air, looking for her ChapStick behind a couch. Blogger is disgusted, blogs about it. Blogger tries to reply on Facebook too. ChapStick deletes her comments. Others object to the image. ChapStick deletes their comments. ChapStick's ads with the line "Be heard at" start to look foolish. People keep commenting. ChapStick keeps deleting. People get angry. ChapStick gets worried. The image isn't even that big of a deal—it's ChapStick's reaction to the criticism that galls. "What asses," people say of ChapStick (get it?). People start commenting about why they can't see their old comments. ChapStick can't keep up with all the deleting. Comments are getting through, and they're nasty. (People who aren't even fans of the brand can comment nowadays, of course.) ChapStick for some weird reason doesn't just delete the image, apologize, or even acknowledge the issue, beyond its infuriating deleting of comments. ChapStick apparently thinks the whole thing will just go away if it can silence enough of its "fans." Why is ChapStick so stupid? It's not a total mess, though. Burt's Bees and Carmex must be thrilled. Larger image after the jump.
     UPDATE: ChapStick has finally responded—deleting the offending post (it's gone from the ChapStick website, too) and adding a new Facebook post with a weird semi-apology. "We see that not everyone likes our new ad, and please know that we certainly didn't mean to offend anyone!" the post says. "Our fans and their voices are at the heart of our new advertising campaign, but we know we don't always get it right. We've removed the image and will share a newer ad with our fans soon!"
     But then, there's this very strange second paragraph: "We apologize that fans have felt like their posts are being deleted and while we never intend to pull anyone's comments off our wall, we do comply with Facebook guidelines and remove posts that use foul language, have repetitive messaging, those that are considered spam-like (multiple posts from a person within a short period of time) and are menacing to fans and employees."
     So, to those ChapStick fans whose comments were deleted—it was all your fault, you obnoxious, foul-mouthed, menacing spambots! Seriously, maybe just shut down the whole page at this point.
     UPDATE: In a phone interview, Ray Kerins, head of global media relations at Pfizer (which owns ChapStick), acknowledged the missteps, but added: "We're committed to listening. We're committed to the dialogue. This is a perfect example of listening to your followers, your fans. We're trying to live by those words."
     UPDATE: Trying to lighten the mood, a reader sent in a link to two Chapstick ads from the '70s featuring skier Suzy Chaffee as "Suzy Chapstick." See those spots after the jump, too.