On 1st June, Lush Cosmetics UK launched the #SpyCops campaign, discussing the role of undercover police who have been employed to ‘infiltrate political groups and collect ‘intelligence’ regarding planned demonstrations and the individuals involved.’
In addition to their online efforts, the cosmetics chains’ UK stores placed posters in the shop windows featuring police officers’ faces and the phrases “paid to lie,” in addition to faux police tape with the phrase: “Police have crossed a line.”
Shortly after its release last Friday, Lush faced heavy online criticism for the campaign, claiming it was “anti-police” and “anti-state”. As a result, numerous stores across the country have removed their window display. Some stores have even reported alleged intimidation from ex-officers following the campaign.
Even, Calum Macleod, chair of Police Federation of England and Wales, said in a statement: “The Lush advertising campaign is offensive, disgusting and an insult to the hard work, professionalism and dedication of police officers throughout the UK.”
“All it serves to do is to criticise police officers and encourage anti-police sentiments. Police officers already face enough abuse from those who break the law and are a menace to society, without the need for a cosmetic company to start putting the boot in too”
But what do the team at VerriBerri PR and Marketing have to say about this controversial campaign?
Managing Director, Sarah Kauter, say’s her part, following her radio interview with the BBC on Friday.
“Overall, the whole campaign was poorly thought out. As an agency we understand the importance of building a voice and raising awareness of brand values. However, in this instance, Lush have valued controversy over any kind of context. When you’re talking about a subject such as this, it’s important to be clear about your message – which Lush have failed to do.
Following the backlash, Lush were forced to create a statement and 3 additional Tweets to further explain the campaign. In our eyes, the message should have been obvious from the get-go, you need to be able to walk past a shopfront and know exactly what is going on in order for a campaign to be successful. In this instance the window display was confusing and inflammatory, running the risk of allowing the impressionable to believe our police force as a whole are not to be trusted.
With this campaign so poorly planned and executed, Lush will need to tread carefully when handling the backlash and moving on from the campaign – otherwise, their brand image may suffer in the long term.
Following the online criticism and reaction from the public, this Lush campaign is definitely going to be put in the history books for one of 2018’s most controversial marketing campaigns – whether you agree or not!
Don’t make the same mistake as Lush! When planning your social media campaigns and publicity stunts, make sure you have a clear and concise crisis management strategy behind you – in case things go wrong.
If you’re looking to get in touch with our marketing and PR team in Essex, get in touch with us on 01376 386850.