Sephora’s Crisis Management for Celebutard Uproar

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    Consider public perception when you make marketing decisions

    We’re beginning to think that crisis management should be a required class for every marketing major. Cosmetics giant Sephora is the latest to join the long list of organizations that have made ridiculously poor marketing choices after its lipstick, “Celebutard” drew fire from such groups as All About Developmental Disabilities and Down Syndrome Uprising, in addition to thousands of friends and family members of people living with mental health issues.

    The lipstick, which was created in cooperation with tatoo maven Kat Von D, was pulled from shelves, and Sephora issued the following statement:

    “It has come to our attention that the name of one shade of a lipstick we carry has caused offense to some of our clients and others. We are deeply sorry for that, and we have ceased sale of that shade both in our stores and online.”

    As with most of the crisis communications we see, this statement would have been far more impactful if it included a hefty dose of compassion. However, given some time (and no repeat offenses), this situation should blow over for Sephora.

    Von D was less concerned, reportedly tweeting, ““At the end of the day, it’s just a f—— lipstick.” Obviously someone in her camp is thinking clearly, though, as the tweet was quickly deleted.

    One of the most important parts of any communication is to stop and think, “how could this offend someone?” If the answers come pouring out, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]