Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

 

What would Donald Trump think of this?

Don’t answer that. I think I know. He doesn’t suffer from messaging myopia. Or, at least, he says he doesn’t.

I prefer to think it affects us all.

In business, it often slips out during team-building exercises and late-night drinking sessions. I’m sorry, I meant to say working dinners.

We mean to say one thing and we say another. Or is it that, for once, we say what we actually mean?

However, when it comes to ads, you’d think that several eyes and brains would hover over a corporate message before it appears in front of millions.

Not always. Or if they do, they’re all suffering from collective messaging myopia.

The Bic pen company’s South African arm, for example, has just offered a glorious example.

To celebrate the nation’s Women’s Day on August 9, it turned to Facebook and offered a picture of a black businesswoman accompanied with some extraordinary penmanship.

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The words read: “Look Like A Girl. Act Like A Lady. Think Like A Man. Work Like A Boss.”

I will pause for your genteel reactions. I will wait until you reminisce about the great days of equality portrayed in “Mad Men.”

There, didn’t that make everyone feel good?

Didn’t this ad sound like a progressive corporation celebrating a woman’s challenges in the workplace? Surely it made women the world all over feel that Bic was in its corner, painting a mustache on their faces.

Naturally, there was something of an outcry.

However, as South Africa’s Sunday Times reported, the company initially said that its had taken the quote from another website. The company offered: “We can assure you that we meant it in the most empowering way possible and in no way derogatory toward women.”

Rest assured, then.

No, of course those who read this didn’t rest assured. They rested their heads against hard surfaces and banged them very hard.

Once you’ve committed messaging myopia, you need to fix it fast. Sadly, this didn’t quite happen with Bic.

It was quite some time later that Bic finally offered this on its Facebook page: “Hi everyone. Let's start out by saying we're incredibly sorry for offending everybody — that was never our intention, but we completely understand where we've gone wrong. This post should never have gone out. The feedback you have given us will help us ensure that something like this will never happen again, and we appreciate that.”

Of course there’s too much political correctness all around. It can be frightfully stifling of conversation and humor.

But on a subject so basic, so painfully obvious, did no one stop to think that this ad didn’t sound quite right?

Or did too many people at Bic nod their heads and say: “Yep. That’s about right”?

Published on: Aug 11, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.