How NOT to do PR: Lime Crime

As Spiderman was once told, with great power comes great responsibility. These words hold true of brands and their use of social media. With the power to instantly reach countless consumers through posts and hashtags, brands have the responsibility to use this technology wisely and effectively. Social media has become the most interactive and powerful way for brands to communicate with their publics. Poor treatment of customers can go viral, and the influence of customer reviews and consumer-generated media should never be underestimated.

The cosmetic brand Lime Crime is notorious for their poor customer service and the shady conduct of their owner Xenia Vorotova, aka Doe Deere. Their PR practice is a prime example of what NOT to do in a world where consumers have the last say. When the first page of Google search results feature the words ‘boycott’, ‘sordid history’ and ‘customer information stolen’, you know your brand is in trouble.

A brief history of Lime Crime’s accused scandals and PR fails include:

  • threatened lawsuits
  • censorship of negative comments
  • blocking customers on social media
  • ignoring customer correspondence
  • misleading ingredients lists
  • inappropriate use of other people’s intellectual property
  • hostility from the brand’s owner

Most recently, and perhaps most concerning, is the Lime Crime online store hacking scandal. Customers have reported thousands of dollars have been stolen from their bank accounts after purchasing Lime Crime products online and have heavily criticised the brand’s response, or lack thereof. Social media is a two-way street, and customers sharing experiences of being ignored or blocked online has severely damaged the brand’s already shady reputation.

The hacking occurred late 2014 with customers reporting their details being stolen from purchases made in November, however Lime Crime failed to communicate with affected customers until February this year. Had Lime Crime communicated with its customers earlier, they would have had the opportunity to contact their banks and potentially prevent the theft from occurring. The brand’s poor management of the situation and questionable customer service has resulted in the hashtag #boycottlimecrime.

Lime Crime’s scandals have sparked bloggers and vloggers to write and film reviews of the brand, reaching potentially millions of consumers globally. Social media accounts have emerged purely for customers to post their experiences without censorship, like this one and this one.

(YouTube vlogger LoeyLane)

(YouTube vlogger LounaTutorials)

Lime Crime’s lack of transparency and lack of responsiveness has been perceived by their customers as a disregard for their loyalty and their welfare. Lime Crime’s customers feel taken advantage of and have taken to social media to express their frustration, resulting in the absolute PR mess they find themselves in now.

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