Friday, December 09, 2011

Benefit Brand Blunder

Benefit is running this amazing and unique campaign where they placed a bunch of posters with gift bags and mini christmas trees with a bunch of deluxe sized to full sized goodies. There were apparently 26 different locations where consumers could find these surprise bags around Downtown Toronto. When you follow Benefit Canada on Twitter and Facebook they will give you a hint on where to go to get some glamourous giveaways. Throughout the whole giveaway, I was giving this company really positive feedback because I did enjoy the thrill of a young women treasure hunt across the downtown core. But what it lacked was follow through with various locations that they stated that really ruined the experience.

Normally I'm not an early bird by any means. But last night I couldn't sleep at all. I think it was due to the espresso macchiato and mocha I had around 4 pm. Anyways I was still awake at 6 in the morning, fully aware and ecstatic for Benefit's new campaign, I found out that one of their early giveaways was going to be at Yonge and Dundas from 6:30 am and onwards. I left at 6:45 am to go to Dundas Square and I realized after exploring the parameters and all the extending streets, there were nothing to be found. I found out later through Twitter that they had to relocate because they didn't want to steal thunder away from a Charity Christmas Tree Sale event that was also going on.

So I thought to myself "Okay that's fine, I'll just wait for another hint to show up and go there". I didn't want to go in the Bloor area, which now I regret that I should, because it was really out of my way especially since I don't have a metro pass to roam around the city as I please. If I did arrive in the Bloor idea, everything would had been slim picking. Then I recalled a tweet from the previous day that said Benefit will be at "Trinity Bellwoods Park at 2 pm" so at around 10:30 am I decided to bike in the flurry so I could be in the Queen West area to have brunch, go for some light shopping and browsing, kill time and a have warm cup of beverage at a nearby Starbucks to hide away from the awfully cold weather and wait until 2 pm. I thought by arriving to the one of the destinations earlier, at least I could of had time to look and actually choose, instead of taking what's left. I even told a couple sales girls AND passerby that I was conversing with about their campaign because I thought it was a such a good idea.

Honestly, at every 2 minute intervals I checked Benefit's Facebook and Twitter to see if their squads were still heading there, which a lot of recent updates said they were. I checked so often that by 1:00 pm, my Blackberry battery died. Luckily I was prepared and I also brought my iPod Touch with me so that I could still be in the loop about the whole giveaway. At about 1:50 pm, there were still updates on Twitter that reminded girls to head to Trinity Bellwoods Park for the next giveaway. So I headed to the park and met a girl who was also there for the same reason. We questioned if  Benefit was going to place their giveaway at the main entrance on Queen street or at Dundas. So we walked to both entrances to find absolutely nothing. At this location, it was my third attempt to find a giveaway. The entire time I felt I was optimistic about the situation and I felt that they were just late but they would come sooner or later.

At about 2:30 the girl I was walking around with in the park left but I decided to walk around for 5 more minutes just to make sure I didn't miss anything. When I still didn't see anything, I walked to Starbucks to use their wifi to check for another update. That's when I found out on through their Facebook and Twitter that they decided to "re-direct" to another location (again!), but they honestly don't mention where right away. At the same time I noticed that the girl, who had now gone on the bus, wrote that "we're", as in her and I, were waiting for Benefit to come by the park that we were directed to. I also noticed that Benefit was apologetic and even offered her a free glam bag for her inconvenience, "Just heard that the glam squad had to re-direct and will not be at Trinity afterall. So sorry [Girl's Name] but please send your address to us and we will send you your own glam bag!"

Now here's my frustration:

First of all, I'm a very social media involved person. The reason why I started Twitter was so I had a space to communicate with brands and companies because e-mail is not always the most effective tool anymore. So I tweeted my scenario that I experienced, positive as well as negative, and I shared a more in depth version on their Facebook stating I was frustrated that every location I went to were not attended to and they didn't even give an alternate intersection right away but rather state the next location that they will be in 2 and half hours later. I thought that since I went to two locations (that were re-directed) and waited just as long as this girl, if not a lot longer, I would at least be offered the same courtesy and also be compensated. I really don't think it's that irrational for me to assume that. However, I did not receive the same courteous response, which stunned me.

While this girl was essentially in the same scenario as I was, she was offered a glam bag of goodies as a form compensation and I was given this response from the Benefit Canada's Twitter saying, "Sorry to disappoint but that is the nature of guerilla campaigns. Things change on the fly! Apologies." Now, I understand that things change on the fly but that's not really my main problem. My main problem was that how come this girl I was just with, who was in the same place as me, walked around with me, gets compensated and I don't? Are my waiting time and diligence for this giveaway negated? All I wanted is to be treated fairly, and again, offered the same courtesy. I think that any consumers who were looking forward to this giveaway would feel the exact same way.

When I sent them a short message that refered them to their Facebook giveaway message to the girl and I told them how I felt it's a little unfair, this was the response I got back, "Send your address we will send something out. We've been very generous with the campaign and we're disappointed by your message on our feed". I appreciated that they decided to do the fair thing, and I understood that my facebook post to them was negative so I deleted it after I received this message so it does not look bad on them after making a fair decision. However,  I found this response kind of rude. I don't know if they sounded cold because they were limited to 140 characters and couldn't add in the mushy words and punctuation to make it sound more friendly, or that they think I'm lying because I wanted something out of it. Perhaps I am just over analyzing it, but that is just my interpretation. Are they saying something like "we've already given out so many products  and we're upset that consumer like you would lie and ask us for more". I just find it so interesting that a brand would use the word "disappointed" by their consumer or target customer. I feel like they think I'm deceiving them just to get a gift, but honestly that is not my intention. Again I want to stress that all I wanted was to be compensated just like the girl I was waiting 45 minutes with. If I was a deceiving brat, I wouldn't even waste my time to write this blog post.

I feel like from that response, they're not treating me as an actual consumer interested in trying out their new products and more so as a stingy girl looking for free stuff. But in fact, this past weekend I did purchase 6 products from Benefit alone. In the end, their products rock! I especially love their toning lotion and POREfessional, and their moisturizer. But unfortunately, their customer service on the social media end is somewhat of a disappointment. They handle positive feedback with plenty of retweets and kind replies, but negative feedback with somewhat rude responses. Well I hope that it improves and hopefully whatever I'm sent in the mail will be similar to what the girl is sent as well.

For all a lot business situations:
When someone has a great experience they will tell 1 to 3 people
When someone has a terrible experience they will tell 10 to 20 people .


  1. One my friend's comment:

    I don't think you are over-reacting about the Benefit thing. Leading you all around the city is frustrating, because obviously the customer who would run around the city for fun is a loyal customer. If you compare the response that the company gave you to the girl that posted on the Facebook page, they seem genuinely apologetic and sympathetic towards her. I agree, they did seem rude to you. Maybe it was limited in characters because it was Twitter, but it was still rude!

    What are you going to do? I would email their customer service directly and just explain why you are frustrated, since you thought it was a great idea for a campaign. The Twitter response was unacceptable.

  2. Our experiences were so different! I had no issues with the locations.. But I absolutely understand where you're coming from and I don't think you're overreacting at all. Benefit's response to you was curt and tactless. It's certainly not fair that some people are compensated and others are not. If that's the nature of guerrilla marketing, then it should apply to everyone despite the circumstances. Have you done anything else regarding the matter?

  3. I took my friend's suggestion and contacted their customer service. Now they're forwarding my information to the right department. We shall see what happens.

  4. The lady who responded to your comment was unprofessional. The nerve of some people....

  5. Yeah, it's over now. The male customer respondent was much kinder with his email followup. They ended up sending me a Benefit Mascara and a sample size of their POREfessional.


01 09 10