Drugstore Brands Finally Catch On

New-Maybelline-Fit-Me-Matte-Poreless-Foundation-Shades

Recently, cosmetics brand Maybelline has launched 7 new shades of their Fit Me foundation, expanding the range to 40 shades in total, a first in the drugstore.

African-American women spend $7.5 billion annually on beauty products, and yet the vast majority of affordable, drugstore makeup brands cary roughly 12  beige.(I just checked ulta.com and there are now 7 foundation ranges from 5 drugstore brands that cary 15 or more colors.)

Brandsclaim the demand in the market isn’t there, but they aren’t producing the product in order for it to be purchased to show them the demand. This self-fulfilling prophecy of neglect is severely limiting beauty brands as far as market share is concerned.

That being said, there is still much work to be done on the ads as well as the products they’re intended to promote. Developing a wider shade range is great, but could be so much more effective if combined with increased hiring and featuring of women of color, of people of various genders and lived experiences.

It is becoming glaringly obvious that there is the potential for the beauty industry to prove that it is so much more than 7 shades of beige.

Advertisements

Snark Sells

As tweeting at companies becomes the most popular and efficient way to contact an actual human, the lines are being blurred between snarky and rude customer interactions.

In 2014, Taco Bell took the internet by storm with their sassy twitter interactions with customers and other brands. These lighthearted comments made their rounds on the internet, becoming commonplace in meme-pages and sites like Imgur.

Now, in 2017, it is fast-food giant Wendy’s that has taken the spotlight for its savage tweets. Not only does Wendy’s roast its competition, but it also has received countless requests from Twitter users begging to be roasted.

Why is it that this form of interaction is so popular?

Is it that consumers are so used to the painted generic smiles of other brands that the edgy tweets connect so well?

Why is this brand such a hit among fast-food restaurants?
Could it be because they aren’t really ever at risk of losing a large portion of their customers, or is it that these types of brands aren’t taken seriously?

For whatever the reason, I’m 100% in favor of this trend.

Pantene Steps into Market Gap with Campaign Celebrating Strength

maxresdefault

As Shea Moisture has recently come under fire for straying from their roots as a company that produces products catered to maintaining and enhancing black women’s natural hair, it seems Pantene has chosen to capitalize on this moment with their latest campaign.

In this campaign, they feature various black women of different ages and different hair types, including straight hair, curly hair, and natural hair.

This type of campaign celebrates the diversity of the brand’s consumers as well as reaches out to an audience that may be struggling to fill in the gap that abandoning Shea Moisture has left in their beauty routine.

One of my favorite parts of this particular campaign is that, according to a Proctor & Gamble press release, this line is the brand’s “first hair care collection co-created with a team of African American PhD’s, scientists, stylists and dermatologists, specifically designed to deliver Pro-V Nutrient Blends to provide superior strength and moisture for women with relaxed, natural and transitioning hair.”

In having the creator and the target consumer belong to the same demographic, Pantene’s line earns credibility and reaffirms its mission to empower African American women, without asserting that one style is preferred over another. It would have been easy to slip into a narrative that shames black women for using relaxers or straightening their hair, but instead of pointing out differences, Pantene aims to highlight the strength of these women.

With the “Strong is Beautiful” campaign, Pantene seems to join Dove in the effort to redefine beauty standards and diversify the representation of women in advertising.

(Although Pantene seems to be doing a much better job, still looking at you, weird body-bottles.)

I’m in love with the timeliness and tasteful execution of this campaign, with different branches that touch on various definitions of what it means to be a strong woman.

Selling Political Activism

40BC4DA200000578-0-image-m-6_1495619581508
Ice cream icon Ben & Jerry’s  recently launched a campaign in Australia, banning customers from purchasing two scoops of the same flavor until marriage equality is legalized (in Australia).

While I agree that this issue is incredibly important, I question the effectiveness of the campaign coming from an ice cream shop.

We now live in a world of activist-targeting campaigns, where our own individual ideals are repackages and sold back to us with a new branded label each week.

But in a post-Kendal-Jenner-Pepsi-Fiasco world, I would argue that brands need to be more careful about virtue signaling campaigns. In their own PR materials explaining the campaign, Ben & Jerry’s made reference to a poll citing that 72% of Australians approve of same-sex marriage. This would indicate that the goal of this campaign is not to change minds and win hearts. While it succeeds in attracting attention, it may come off as co-opting the gay rights movement, which I’m sure is not the intention of the company.

It seems to me that more often than not, companies are slipping into the grey area between contributing to causes and capitalizing off of them. The question now is how much longer this practice will be tolerable for consumers.

Why “Products I Hate,” Videos Benefit Beauty Brands

As I’ve mentioned before, in the age of social media and Beauty Gurus, brand response to negative critique is highly important.

When certain products or brands are mentioned in a “Products I Hate” video, it gives the brand honest and direct feedback on what about a particular product may/may not work for certain skin types/complexions/etc.

For whatever reason, an influencer doesn’t like a product you sell.

They mentioned your brand, and while it may not have been in an ideal way, you now have an opportunity to send them one of your products that may suit them better. 

This type of response shows that your brand listens, cares, and is engaged in the community. It also shows that your brand can take critique, and exhibits grace and humility.

It also gives you a chance to build a better connection with that influencer, showing them that your brand can be trusted to respect honesty and allow them to maintain credibility when positively reviewing your other products.

These influencer relationships are key to reaching consumers of all ages, and are incredibly important to successful PR campaigns and social media marketing. So, maintain them. 

Presidential PR

While government positions relating to public relations aren’t actually called PR agents, Public Information Officers and/or White House Communications Directors have pretty much always served in the same capacity as a PR professional.

That, it seems, is changing.

With this new presidency, there seems to be a steep learning curve with regard to media relations, one that seems to be insurmountable for this administration.

The people of this nation have questions. They have comments, concerns and fears that are going unaddressed at best, and exacerbated at worst.

Trump recently proposed ceasing to do White House briefings, which would mean essentially cutting the American people off from information about what the head of state is up to.

As these briefings are the best way to be in control of the conversation surrounding the administration, why would they stop that avenue of information?

Because they consistently stray away from talking points, are uneducated about the topics at hand, and generally just seem ill-fit to be speaking to the American people as a whole.

Hire better staff –better as in more skilled at the job that they have been hired to perform, not better at having and donating money– and these problems seem like they would diminish significantly.

Just a thought.

Dove’s Body-Positive Campaign Falls Flat

hq720Dove, ever-trying to promote body-positivity in its campaigns and products, released a new line of Limited Edition “Real Beauty Bottles” of its body wash that are supposed to be inspired by the beauty of women of all shapes and sizes.

The response?

Crickets and question marks, mostly.

This idea may have sounded like a good one while sitting in the board room, thinking up ways to commodify women’s insecurities, but once its out on the internet, it falls very flat.

The original bottles have no relation whatsoever to a body shape, and they didn’t need to be compared to a woman’s body at all. This campaign is just ridiculously unnecessary and counter-productive.

What happens if you now have a woman staring at the various bottles in front of her, ashamed of the one she wants to pick vs. the one she has? Or if all of one bottles of one shape were to sell out first, is that not indicating a societal preference or standard?

Does this need to be an issue?

In this case, I think someone fell in love with the copy they wrote and created a campaign around the idea of literally changing the mould used in bottle production. Neat, but not productive.

 

 

The following are but a small tasting menu of  what Twitter users had to offer on the topic:

08-dove-body-type-meme.w710.h473Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 5.53.45 PM

dovey-4-Copy.png

94d8176ae405b46e37be42a928b5994e.png

dove1_1a5cdac8699dc0d5c58549fa31802831

 

Another Airplane Mishap: Delta Hates Dads?

In what is apparently becoming a new trend, another airline has mishandled the process of asking a passenger to disembark the aircraft– this time, it’s Delta.

A father is seen on video– that went viral, of course– arguing with an agent on board a Delta plane headed to LA from Hawaii, as he and his wife are being asked to leave the plane with their two infant children. His argument is that he paid for the seat they are asking the one-year-old to vacate, and wishes for his toddler to sit in it. The agent, however, threatens him with jail time and foster care for his children.

How can this still be happening?

Clearly, airlines need to invest in some sort of crisis-situation training in the process of asking passengers to disembark.

Additionally, the airlines need to make sure that their employees are aware of the actual FAA rules and regulations – like the one that recommends that children fly in car-seat like devices for safety.

These videos are constantly going viral because people already feel vulnerable in traveling, and the number of videos and situations going viral are creating an “us vs. them” mentality for passengers.

Delta, United, American, all airlines need to better communicate with their customers. Reassure them that the airline is meant to facilitate efficient, comfortable, and safe travel.

For what it’s worth, Delta didn’t pull a United Airlines, and actually issued an apology. In the apology, they validated the family’s experiences and accepted responsibility, rather than glossing over the issue, so all may not be lost for their brand image.

Brand Responses to Negative Critique

In the beauty community, YouTubers hold a lot of clout.  They reach millions of potential customers, giving live demonstrations and honest reviews of products, often linking them in the description bar. But what happens when a review is a negative one?

Guru Jackie Aina has well over 1.3 million subscribers on her YouTube channel, and recently posted a video mentioning products she wasn’t going to buy, an “anti-haul.” In this video, she mentions that the well-known cosmetics brand, Tarte, has stopped reaching out to her after she mentioned in a previous video how one of their products didn’t work for her.

In terms of PR, is it a smart move for Tarte to remove Jackie from their mailing list?

I definitely think it was a poor choice. Personally, it seems deceptive and “shady” of brands to only reach out to YouTubers that give only favorable reviews, as people prioritize honesty in the realm of reviews. By removing Jackie from all product launch lists, Tarte has closed itself off from over 1.3 million people that may buy their products from her recommendations or mentions.

Is it worth it? Does it do anything other than promote the image that they don’t value honesty? In an industry like the cosmetics industry, brands need to recognize that not all of their products are going to suit all of the influencers, and brands need to be able to accept feedback and criticism.