Femfresh froo-froo fiasco: when Social Media gets angry

July 9th, 2012

As we were reminded earlier in the week, Social Media can be a strange and sometimes scary place for brands. in theory it ought to be a great way to get closer to one’s audience, but when consumers’ wants and needs are misjudged even slightly, the results can be very damaging. Today, a brand that’s been taught a particularly tough lesson in ‘engaging with its community’ is feminine hygiene company Femfresh.

Selling feminine hygiene products is never going to be an easy brief, not only because of the obvious embarrassment factor (and the potential for unwanted humour), but also because they’re not an established market: after all, we’ve coped without these products since the dawn of time, and many women find the notion that they should clean themselves using special products ‘down there’ offensive.

But what caused by far the most venom on the social media channels was the decision by Femfresh to use infantile language and playground slang terms for the word ‘vagina’; presumably to get around the issue of embarrassment. We do not know whether any research was carried out into women’s perceived coyness at using the term, or whether it was simply not disputed, but a decision to use childish terms was ultimately made: on its Facebook page, Femfresh has described its products as being one of the kindest ways to care for your va jay jay, kitty, nooni, lala, froo froo!

Separately, in a move that now seems incomprehensible, Femfresh also chose to make their fan page open to comments from any Facebook user – not only to those who have chosen to ‘like’ the product. The decision made them an easy target to those with a particular dislike of their brand, as none would have had to swallow their pride and pretend to be ‘fans’ before expressing their opinion.

As for the ‘frou frou’ talk, many women are appalled at the suggestion that we are too shy to use the anatomically accurate term. Femfresh probably intended the tactic as a way to break down perceived barriers to discussion, but the choice of words has only served to strengthen the idea that these products are all about feeling ashamed of our bodies: after all, we can’t even use their proper names…

The thing is, that simply isn’t true for most women – as a great many took pains to point out.

Becca Jones wrote: “I call it a vagina. like any sane person. Including doctors“.

Others have gone for the humorous approach: Frances Donnelly wrote: I think I’ve found my FrooFroo, it was in a box in my parent’s attic in a box alongside my Sylvanian Families flower shop. I’m not sure how to attach it. Please advise.

Femfresh did not reply to any of the individual comments, and instead continued to post their updates using the same tone and language. After hundreds more negative comments appeared on its various posts, Femfresh eventually replied:“Whilst we welcome debate, please can we ask that you don’t post anything abusive or use bad language as this contravenes our policies and we will have to delete the posts. Thank you”But at time of writing, the comment count continued to grow.  What do you think about the Femfresh ads and the backlash that has unfolded today?

Femfresh froo-froo fiasco: when Social Media gets angry

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