Spying on Lush Cosmetics’ ‘Spycops’ Campaign

Did the recent controversial campaign hurt the brand’s health?

Understanding the health of your brand is a critical concern for marketers in the online age. With so many conversations happening all over the internet, identifying important trends among what people are saying about your brand can feel overwhelming. Should you focus on the perception of your brand among a specific audience? Or in aggregate? Should you compare sentiment to your competitors? Or your own brand over time?

And what about those times when you launch a new marketing campaign? Will the campaign enhance your brand’s standing in the minds of its target audience, or will it fall flat? Even worse, could your brand be attracting negative attention?

As all good marketers know, your brand is the primary source of value for your product. That means taking care of brand health is an all-important activity. Brand perception is critical to the future of a business; especially in the CPG arena, where competition is fierce, consumer attention spans are short, and the decision to purchase one product over another often comes down to brand loyalty and recall.

Luckily for CPG brands, we now have a massive amount of consumer conversation data at our fingertips, encompassing billions of tweets, blog posts and customer reviews.

And thanks to AI-Powered Consumer Insights, combined with social media analytics, marketers can harness this mass of data to generate deep insights about any brand.

We think this concept is so important it deserves illustration.

To evaluate brand health:

  • Compare positive and negative sentiment overall
  • Drill down into the different associated emotions and keywords
  • Take snapshots of individual user opinions

Making a bold move

Lush Cosmetics is an eco-friendly British beauty products chain. Popular across Europe with increasingly environmentally conscious millennials, the company is also well known for its political activism – a core feature of its brand image. In early June 2018, Lush launched a new campaign, known as ‘Spycops’, to draw attention to the harmful activities of undercover police officers.

The campaign attracted a great deal of controversy, along with a lot of buzz around the Lush brand. But overall, did ‘Spycops’ enhance the Lush brand or damage it? We can find the answers by conducting a brand analysis of online consumer conversations around this topic.

To start with, Crimson Hexagon gathered online conversation data for Lush Cosmetics for the current quarter, from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr, along with a range of blogs and forums. When aiming to understand brand health after a controversial campaign, sentiment analysis of the online conversation is one of the most important areas to focus on, as it can reveal a lot of insights.

The above sentiment analysis graph shows a significant spike in conversation volume from June 1st. This spike relates directly to the launch of the Spycops campaign, which generated an immediate surge in consumer conversation.

Charting sentiment shifts

Looking at the sentiment around the topic, we can see that basic negative sentiment is greater than basic positive sentiment during the first four days of the campaign. This reflects a wave of negative media coverage in the UK, along with angry responses from both the police force and the wider public.

After a few days, Lush dropped the campaign. A negative response like this could jeopardise Lush’s brand image. But the conversation appears to settle down and after the initial four days we can see basic positive sentiment rising again, while basic negative dies down. This could indicate that Lush has good brand health overall, making it resilient, or perhaps that its target audience is receptive to and approving of political activism campaigns, or perhaps simply that the brand dropped the campaign just in time to avoid more damage.

The below graph shows a more detailed analysis of the specific emotions driving the online conversations, where we can see that ‘disgust’ and ‘anger’ are significantly represented.

Discovering consumer opinions

As well as discovering the overall sentiment around a brand, performing brand analysis also involves looking at the keywords that people associate with your brand in the online conversation.

In the case of Lush, we can see a wide range of positive and relevant keywords appearing, such as ‘self care’, ‘love’, and ‘beauty’. But we can also see a significant amount of negative keywords, including ‘police’, ‘attack’ and ‘police officers’, showing the campaign is still front and centre in many people’s minds.

To get an even more granular picture of what people are saying, Crimson Hexagon dug deeper into the conversation and picked out quotes from individual consumers. First, here are some examples of user comments with negative sentiments related to the Lush campaign, specifically ‘disgust’.

Other social media users expressed more positive sentiment about the Lush campaign, such as in the below tweet.

As shown above, while this tweet’s overall sentiment towards the Lush campaign was positive, sadness was the main emotion expressed. This can be an important differentiation to make when seeking a nuanced picture of consumer sentiment.


In a world full of online chatter, knowing the health of your brand — and the forces that influence it — really matters. That’s where listening in on millions of consumer conversations puts you ahead of the game.  What’s more, understanding consumer sentiment towards your brand at a granular level enables you to know exactly how successful a marketing campaign has been.

Information like this gives brands an essential edge when launching new marketing campaigns, or simply when testing the health of their brand in general.

Want to learn more about brand analysis? Read our 5-Minute Guide to Brand Analysis here!

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