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Octopus TV Failure Awards ® – Pride and Prejudice – BIC for Her aka BICs for Chicks by Andrew Eborn

Updated: Mar 6, 2020

Octopus TV Failure Awards ® – Pride and Prejudice – BIC for Her aka BICs for Chicks by Andrew Eborn

In this award-winning weekly series renowned international lawyer, strategist, futurist, producer, brand adviser, broadcaster and inspirational speaker, Andrew Eborn, President of Octopus TV and Knot The Truth and Founder of the Octopus TV Failure Awards, shines a light on the products and services, brand extensions and campaigns that failed to take off and have as a result earned entry into The Octopus TV Failure Awards.

As Andrew Eborn points out “we always celebrate success whilst hiding the failures that led to that success. The Octopus TV Failure Awards finally give failure the attention it deserves.”

“If necessity is the mother of invention then failure is the father of success”

“From failed products and services to campaigns and ads we would rather forget, I want to encourage organisations and brands to be better at learning from failures not just ignoring them and pretending they never happened.”

Andrew is in high demand as a presenter, mentalist, magician and speaker around the world.

Thank you for all of your nominations so far. Keep ‘em coming!

Send your nominations now together with full description and images to

PC World

We live in a PC world where nibbles of the forbidden apple tempt us all.

Inevitably people will put a foot wrong… unintentionally.

Prejudice should indeed be condemned. We must not be bystanders.


That said, at the other extreme we should not let our fear of offending people strangle society.

As George Carlin pointed out, “I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.”

Cries of “prejudice” run rampant in every aspect of life.

At the Oscars virtually every speech was punctuated with references to the controversy around lack of diversity - starting with Chris Rock pointing out what was missing from this year’s director nominees: “vaginas”.

Rebel – with some claws – Wilson pointed out at the BAFTAs, there was prejudice in all of this year’s Awards as “felines” failed to receive any nominations. A CAT-astophe!

We must avoid everything being male, pale and stale

In 2018 I was unanimously elected to be the Vice Chair of Equity TVB – by far the largest branch in the union of more than 47,000 performers and creative practitioners.

I have championed several initiatives including around respect, anti-bullying and mental health. I founded “Canned Laughter – It’s OK Not To Be OK” promoting mental wealth including in the Arts. Let’s be the generation who talks about mental health so the next generation does not suffer the stigma.

Sadly, there are those who cry “bullying” and “discrimination” where neither exist. They are often spurred on by those around them.

As with prejudice, feigning dissent is abhorrent.

Not everything is based on prejudice.

Not everything amounts to bullying just because we scream from the rooftops that it is.

Sometime those who cry “discrimination” and “bullying” do a disservice to those genuine cases.

I always say that that we should focus on intention as so often perception and reality are not aligned.

Perception is deception.

I regularly get invited to speak around the world as well as to produce and present events.

I am always keen to ensure diversity in the programmes I produce.

I appreciate that we need to re-dress the imbalance of the past.

I do, however, long for the day when we are truly blind to sex, colour and creed and the only focus is on the best person for the job - a true meritocracy.

Until that day, inevitably products targeted at just one group will cause outrage and gain coverage.

As pointed out, if you want to draw a crowd start a fight…


Congratulations on surviving another week…

If you’re happy and you know it wash your hands…

Delighted you are still here and took the date to heart – Together we should indeed March 4th …

March Forth (Geddtt? Got it? Good! !)

Previously here at The Octopus TV Failure Awards we looked at Lady Doritos – less crunch when you munch your lunch…a product that was never actually released and yet the mere suggestion set social media alight.

Little did we know that all this time we’ve been eating man chips..

As Ellen pointed out…” who does not want a crunchy chip? If it’s not crunchy it’s a wet potato”

After Pepsi make a chip that’s not crunchy they will make a soda that’s not wet”

What do we want? Quiet Chips!

This week we look at another gender specific product this time from one of the world’s leading pen manufacturers…

BIC for Her aka BICs for Chicks

BIC is rightly proud of its rich history In 1944, Marcel Bich bought a factory in Clichy, France, and set up business with Édouard Buffard ), as makers of “writing instruments parts”.

Marcel Bich, adapted and improved the ballpoint invented by the Hungarian László Biró, and in December 1950, launched his own ballpoint pen in France under the BIC® brand- a shortened and more memorable version of his own name.

The French famously drop their H’s

‘Allo ‘Allo !

The quality and affordable price of the BIC® Cristal® ballpoint pen meant that it was quickly adopted by an increasing number of consumers.

In 1952 BIC won the French "Oscar de la publicité" with its "elle court, elle court" (“She Runs She Runs”) advertising campaign drawn by famous French designer Raymond Savignac. .

In 1961 Raymond Savignac created a character with a ballpoint head for the "Nouvelle Bille" (new ballpoint) campaign in 1960. This little boy was placed next to the letters B-I-C - both turned to orange. The logo has remained unchanged ever since and orange became BIC’s official colour.

BIC’s expansion around the world continued apace including in UK, Scandanavia, North America, Africa and the Moiddle East

1965 saw BIC in Japan

BIC in Japan not BIG in Japan!!!

BIC also started to diversify its portfolio of products

In 1973 BIC launched the first BIC® full-size pocket lighter with an adjustable flame after acquiring Flaminaire, a French manufacturer of high-quality lighters the year prior.

In 1975 after partnering with Violex, a Greek manufacturer of razor blades, BIC became the first brand to launch a one-piece razor.

WHITING THE WRONGS In 1997 BIC purchased the Tipp-Ex® brand, the leading European brand of correction products.

You could always tell when my secretary had been using my PC there would be Tipp-Ex on the screen (Non-PC PC joke adapted!! ) I avoided any references to the old blonde jokes even the definition of Artificial Intelligence - when blondes dye their hair brunette.

As George Carlin pointed out, “I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.”

In BIC’s summary of its history it would appear that BIC would like one of its products to be Tipp-Exed from our memories. I could find no mention of this week’s Octopus TV nominee on BIC's website of “BICS for Her”.

Little wonder… the backlash was as savage as it was predictable..


I always like to encourage equal rights.

I campaign against labels and don’t see colour. Ellen says she’s like a cocker spaniel that way . It would be churlish to point out that the only animal that has been confirmed to see just in black and white is a skate because it has no cones in its eyes. But why let the truth stand in the way of a good gag!

..and so BIC thought it would be a good idea to introduce Bics for women….

The product description on Amazon states:

“BIC Cristal For Her has an elegant design - just for Her! It features a thin barrel designed to fit a women's hand. It has a diamond engraved barrel for an elegant and unique feminine style.”

Little did you know you’ve been using man pens all these years!

They come in Lady colours – pink and purple

As Russel Howard observed“all they’ve done is change the colour . They’ve effectively given a biro a vajazzle”

They are just like regular pens but cost twice as much

As Ellen pointed out “ The worst part is, they don’t come with any do they expect us to write with them…”

Batteries are also not included!

Ellen goes on “ I was reading the back of the pack.. well, I had a man read the back of the package to me and it said it is “designed to fit a woman’s hand” … what does that mean? So, when we’re taking down dictation from our bosses we’ll feel comfortable and forget we’re not getting paid as much

“Companies have spent millions on pills that grow men’s hair and fix men’s sex lives, and now ladies have a pen.

We’ve come a long way, baby!”

“Built strong enough for a man but simple enough even a woman can use them””

Ellen also produced her own TV commercial for Bic for Her

“Here’s how it works…whenever you have an opinion write it on a piece of paper and crumple it up and throw it away as no one wants to know our opinions, sweetheart…”

Ellen’s ad finished with the tag line:

“Bic for Her pens.. For best results use while barefoot and pregnant”

Legions took to Amazon to vent their outrage and add their sarcastic reviews

"Oh thank the heavens above! My feeble, female hands were just a-strugglin' with those bulky man pens."

“I can't find a switch to turn it on, and it didn't come with batteries. This is not the "for her" product I was expecting. At all.”

“Someone has answered my gentle prayers and FINALLY designed a pen that I can use all month long! I use it when I'm swimming, riding a horse, walking on the beach and doing yoga. It's comfortable, leak-proof, non-slip and it makes me feel so feminine and pretty!”

“ Since I've begun using these pens, men have found me more attractive and approachable. It has given me soft skin and manageable hair and it has really given me the self-esteem I needed to start a book club and flirt with the bag-boy at my local market.”

“ My drawings of kittens and ponies have improved, and now that I'm writing my last name hyphenated with the Robert Pattinson's last name, I really believe he may some day marry me! I'm positively giddy. Those smart men in marketing have come up with a pen that my lady parts can really identify with.” “I see this comes in a sleek design. But as a "full-figured" woman, do these pens come in "curvy and carefree"?”

“I'd really like to buy a pack of these pens; but I probably need my father's or husband's permission first. Like I do with all my financial decisions.”

“I used one of these pens post-hysterectomy, and my uterus grew back. Thanks a lot, Bic. Thanks a whole hell of a lot.”

“I used to be married to a special forces soldier, he was manly, brave, and a decorated hero. He could carry the house on his back whilst fighting off terrorists and a zombie invasion. I accidentally bought these pens and put them in his backpack for pen type emergencies when he was out in the field. Now he is called Agnes, he lives in a commune in Brighton, is a professional mime artist and knits underwear out of cat fur. The divorce cost me my home, my in-house car mechanic and D I Y expert and the person who could get the plates down from the top shelf, I am old and bitter and my life is over, all because of these pens. Heed my warning people of the world, these pens ruin lives, do not touch them, do not even be in the same house as them and certainly do not put them in your husband's backpack. If I can save one other person then my sacrifice will have been worth it. And please see Amazon for my ex-husbands range of cat fur underwear.”

“My wife has struggled with man pens all her life. Try as she might, they always wrestle her down and she has to surrender using them, unless writing on a notepad for her macho employer. … With Bic for Her, she now has the confidence, and proper fit, in her ball pen to write and do the things a woman should. Just yesterday, with her bridge club meeting, ALL the girls could keep score since she loaned them each one of the pens. The women all told her they felt so empowered, that they would serve dinner FIVE MINUTES LATE!!! My wife's best friend, Betty Sue, even insists her husband will have to tuck his OWN napkin in tonight.” “I was a bit unnerved at first when my wife announced she wanted to drive to the grocery store on her own. I had to gently remind her that operating an automobile is much more complicated than writing, especially with new Bic for Her pens. She realized the wisdom I offered was correct, especially since she has never had a driver's license, and only recently was allowed to ride in the front seat. I patted her cute bottom, and told her how cute she is. She giggled, and waltzed into the kitchen to prepare my man meal, following a new recipe she wrote with her- ready? - Bic for Her pens!”

"This is an awesome, ground-breaking product, but a quick warning for the ladies (and gents who may TRY to use one)! Practice extreme caution when using the new "Bic for Her" pen. Word on the street is the ink has a heavy flow once a month and could stain. You're welcome."

I am writing this in the kitchen.

"Finally! For years I've had to rely on pencils, or at worst, a twig and some drops of my feminine blood to write down recipes (the only thing a lady should be writing ever). I had despaired of ever being able to write down said recipes in a permanent matter, though my men-folk assured me that I 'shouldn't worry yer pretty little head." But, AT LAST! Bic, the great liberator, has released a womanly pen that my gentle baby hands can use without fear of unlady-like callouses and bruises. Thank you, Bic!"


“if you are going to make a pen for her, please refrain from calling it a ball pen. we're confused enough.”

“...As if men hadn't been stripped of everything good already, BIC steps in and piles on by encouraging women to learn to write, just like their male counterparts. WTF, BIC?

Bic for Her became the world’s most ridiculed pen and was discontinued at the end of 2016.

Miss Bic for her? … Absolutely, there is nothing better to unite people and to stir the public’s imagination than a common cause. If you want to draw a crowd start a fight !

In a statement the manufactures said: "When we launched it, we received positive feedback from consumers. We recognise it has elicited strong reactions since then. We value all the comments we receive, including critical ones, and we regret any offence that may have been caused."


We live in interesting times where fear runs rampant.

As Joseph Goebbels advised us “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”.

Aeschylus, the father of tragedy warned us 'in war, truth is the first casualty.' And so, in the war against COVID-19 we have continued to see a flurry of fake news - including suggestions that there is a link between the virus the new 5G Networks

Fear is not good at keeping investments safe

As Warren Buffett pointed out: “What we learn from history is that people do not learn from history. When investors get either too fearful or too greedy, sometimes they hide behind the notion that this time is different. Usually they regret it.'

As Napoleon asked 'What is history, but a fable agreed upon?”

History is written by the winners but unlikely to be written using a BIC for Her pen….

.. and so, as fear continues to spread having devastating effects on markets around the world, may the only crunch come from your Lady Doritos..

See you next time for more fantastically fabulous failures ….In the meantime, be kind to each other!

Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewEborn and @OctopusTV



“FAILURE” is a Registered Trade Mark of Octopus TV Ltd (UK00003263552) and may not be used without permission. Arguably, therefore you can’t own your failures but you could get a licence !!!

Contact us now for licensing opportunities ….

From failed products and services to campaigns and ads we would rather forget, we want to encourage organisations and brands to be better at learning from failures not just ignoring them and pretending they never happened. Send your nominations with full description and images to

In addition to international recognition and glittering prizes the winners will receive the much valued TOFA. Andrew Eborn is a lawyer, strategic business adviser, producer, writer, presenter, magician and speaker. Andrew has specialised in international licensing and global rights’ management for several years and has been actively involved with the negotiation, acquisition and international exploitation of various major licences enabling companies to maximise the return on their rights as well as assisting with the strategic development of their international businesses. Andrew Eborn is now working with several businesses across the IP value chain including the creation and licensing of content in all media from recording, publishing, distribution, supply of talent, management, promotion, immersive technology and holograms. Businesses include: Octopus TV Ltd ( award winning company revolutionising the way content is created and distributed) @octopustv Knot The Truth Ltd ( KTT) with RJ Gibb, son of Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, launched in Cannes. KTT already has a strong line up of programmes, tv, film and music productions, live events, theatrical shows and holographic experiences. Andrew Eborn is a columnist, broadcaster and regular presenter and speaker around the world

Photographer: Corrado Amitrano

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