Due to a spate of recent controversies and public relations mishaps, the Lollipop Guild has announced that it is seeking new representation to help rebuild brand reputation and awareness.
“We retained our former representatives for nearly 80 years, and we appreciate all that they have done for us,” the Guild announced in a press release after market close on Friday. “However, our industry has has changed a lot during that time, and unfortunately our prior representatives have not been able to grow with it.”
Trouble started early last year when the Guild ran its now infamous “Lick Me” campaign, which targeted adults in an attempt to boost sales among older patrons. The campaign highlighted specialty products, such as phallic-shaped or liquor-infused pops used at adult get-togethers like hen/stag parties, a choice which garnered a flurry of criticism and satire across social media almost overnight. After campaign launch, the Lollipop Guild quickly lost control of its #LickMe hashtag, and memes and commentary popped up almost immediately to condemn the campaign as old-fashioned, out of touch, and misogynistic, especially in the post-#MeToo era.
While trying to clean up from its marketing debacle, the Guild also found itself embroiled in an internal dispute among its members. Two of the largest factions within the guild are made of up brands that include fillings in their pops and those which do not – known internally as the “Haves” and “Have Nots.” According to Guild emails obtained by this reporter, the Haves wanted to start including more and more dangerous fillings in their products, putting the Guild at risk of running afoul of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. The Have Nots, on the other hand, wanted Guild support for their proposal to infuse suckers with various supplements and additives, including cannabis-infused lollipops in states where recreational marijuana has recently become legal.
Although few people outside of the Lollipop Guild were aware of this discussion, the internal wranglings distracted members from addressing the larger problem posed by the advertising faux pas. These events combined with declining profits in a market that has otherwise been growing have become a concern for the Guild.
Classic sucker sales are still strong, but revenue from new product growth has stagnated, and in some cases even fallen, in recent years. The DIY and craft lollipop industries have also taken a bite out of lollipop sales, with the increasing prevalence of custom molds giving rise to home-popping and boutique lolli-shops, which historically have not joined the Guild due to the high cost of membership.
“Frankly, our representatives have never known how best to market breakthrough products like savory suckers or our pet-friendly brand, Pawpz,” the Guild’s press release explained. “Also, they have failed to make any further headway in the pharmaceutical industry, where we believe we could have a real impact on helping to deliver needed medications to children through a fun and healthy lollipop-delivery system.”
Upon request for a response to the Lollipop Guild’s statement, the former representatives replied, “Whoever takes the job next is a sucker.”
Image: Beth on flickr