Unsociable Social Media | Part 1: The Z-Palette Scandal

In late February, the makeup company Z-palette announced their newest product online. The z-potter. A makeup de-potting tool set to revolutionise the makeup industry it was to be their magum opus. However, things did not go according to plan, the product was critically panned by their customers and led to mass boycotts of the brand by customers and other companies alike… so what went wrong?


The Z-potter | image from z-palette.com

The beginning of the end…

It all began when popular beauty Instagrammer Trend Mood had posted a picture of the product and raving about how much they wanted the z-potter, unaware of the maelstrom that they were about to release unto the beauty world. The image and caption were innocent and great free marketing for Z-Palette, and yet within the next 24 hours it was about to go down the drain, as the beauty company was about to implode upon themselves.

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Trendmood Instagram post | From video Z Palette Saga [Part 1] by Here for the Tea

The cracks start to show…

The main issue was that the company had presented themselves as an affordable and customisable makeup company, but $85 had become too hefty a price especially for a product that had multiple cheaper alternatives and when consumers went on Instagram to voice their concerns that $85 was too expensive, Z-palette had “lost their shit” and started attacking and bullying their customers with cruel messages.

They had called their customers “cheap dates”…

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…told them to “evolve”…

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From Here for the Tea video | Z Palette Saga [Part 1]

…and that they were just “too poor” to buy their products…

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From Here for the Tea video | Z-palette Saga [Part 1]

So what does this mean for brands and digital marketing?

In an age where everything on the internet stays and nothing is forgotten it forces companies and brands to be more conscious of what they’re saying online and how they present themselves to consumers.

Brands have to work harder at maintaining their perfect social media image, as consumers now-a-days have much more bargaining power able to compare a multitude of brands against each other and have access to multiple alternatives. If a brand commits one mistake it can lead to a huge loss of sales, market share and brand loyalty in an instant.

Brands should always have their customers in mind and should always be professional and calm when it comes to dealing with comments, as customers are the life blood of a business and if you alienate them then the business will only fail.

So what exactly did Z-palette do wrong?


Z-palette later came out with an “apology” a few days after the debacle, the brand had stated that they were just defending themselves against the trolls. While many trolls do intentionally try to rile people up, what the brand should’ve done and what other brands and companies should do in the face of criticism, was to take those comments up with grace and answered calmly to people’s concerns. According to LinkedIn the best way to deal with negative comments is to:

  1. Try cracking a joke about the situation
  2. Use slang or jargon that is appropriate for your brand and audience
  3. let genuine emotions show

People would’ve responded much better to the high price if the brand had calmly explained why the Z-potter was $85 and explained why it was safer than other cheaper alternatives. Rather than insulting their customer base and essentially alienating the majority of them, causing them to lose out on a huge number of potential sales they could’ve made.

Company blogs and their social media accounts should be unprofessional. However, what is the limit to this and when does it turn from casual to down-right rude and offensive. Thus, social media accounts should be smart casual but not unprofessional after all it is ultimately a business trying to sell their products and as we’ve seen above one wrong comment and their entire company may come crumbling down.

So I ask all you readers, what is the right way to deal with negative comments? How should brands/businesses be behaving? What level of unprofessionalism just becomes downright rude, and what is the best way for brands to deal with negative comments?

Next Week:

Sociable Social Media | Part 2: How brands should respond to negative comments and companies that have done so with good effect.


4 thoughts on “Unsociable Social Media | Part 1: The Z-Palette Scandal

  1. Wow – what a fascinating case study! The apology certainly does little to help the issue – accusing customers of “jumping on the bandwagon” just for the sake of getting followers when, for example, they haven’t even used hashtags to make them more discoverable. Seems like very strange logic …

    I looked at that LinkedIn article you linked to, and interestingly it seems to be arguing *for* being rude on social media. However, that obviously didn’t work in this case. What do you think is the difference between getting away with being rude and it all backfiring completely?


    • I believe the difference is solely on the target market’s reaction to it all. Wendy’s social media always shows sassy replies to its customers but has never been shamed for it. Instead, the brand is actually praised and called “savage” in a good way by its target market. I think it’s also how the brand is perceived. If it’s more laid back, youthful, and even playful customers can perceive the brand as being “sassy” instead of “rude”. In this case though, the brand probably hasn’t defined that relationship with its customers yet. So, by jumping way way wayyyy into the deep end of defending itself using cheeky language customers are just shocked by how they responded.


    • I think the article is probably exaggerating their use of rude to grab attention. But it’s definitely referring more to be “sassy” or having some attitude which they referred to as having personality in the article like the Wendy’s Twitter page who talkback to customers but in a light and humourous way and definitely aren’t out right attacking their customers. I think people did state that maybe Z-palette was trying to be sassy just like the Wendy’s twitter account but their sense of humour was off and just became down right cruel and ended up just insulting their customers.


  2. I love this blog post. It clearly demonstrates how NOT to handle things when your marketing strategy is not working and consumers start to voice negative opinions on your ads. It’s funny how it can take years and years to develop a brand and really refine it to make it perfect (or at least polished) but it only takes one comment or one photo or one WHATEVER to tear down the brand. You’re definitely right in terms of brands having to be careful and watch their online presence. But I also think that it’s important to know which fights to pick, in terms of replying to negative comments/articles/posts etc.


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