Beauty brand bribery

PR and marketing in the beauty world has evolved in recent years, Caitlin Disken discusses...

Caitlin Disken
3rd December 2018

There was a point when beauty blogging simply meant what it sounded like: uploading videos or blog posts reviewing make-up products, from everyday foundation to eyeshadow palettes. Yet, as more money has been ploughed into social media, beauty blogging has expanded and adapted into a lucrative market funded by big brands. What once meant filming a short video in your bedroom has spiralled out of control, as bloggers and brands use beauty blogging to grab more money.

Yet, who can blame beauty bloggers? Recently, make-up giant NARS took Aussie blogger Sammy Robinson and boyfriend Nick Wheatley, among others, out to Bora Bora for a trip, with the primary purpose of marketing its products to Sammy’s 680,000 subscribers. Vlogging the trip over two posts, Sammy makes sure to focus on the goodies NARS left for the couple: make-up products, NARS-branded scuba diving gear, and, to top it off, a sickly handwritten note telling their pair to ‘live your best life’. Well, NARS, I’m sure we’d all be living our best life if we’d been flown out to Bora Bora on an all-expenses paid trip. It’s hard not to view the videos without feeling incredibly cynical.

[pullquote]One of the reasons beauty blogging works is the expensive nature of the make-up industry.[/pullquote]One of the reasons beauty blogging works is the expensive nature of the make-up industry. As someone whose idea of forking out on make-up is spending fifteen quid on foundation, if I’m ever tempted to try a more expensive product I can’t just nip down to Boots and buy it. I have to think about the quality of the product, how long it will last, and if it will suit me. How can I do that without just buying it? Well, I can have a quick Google to see if any bloggers have reviewed it, which will reassure me about how good it is. If I’m buying a new foundation, I can find a blogger with a similar skin tone to me and see what works for them. Yet, with this trend of major brands funding trips for bloggers, how can I be sure the reviews aren’t biased? With NARS not only giving Sammy Robinson free make-up, but a trip to Bora Bora as well, she’s hardly going to turn around and moan that the products aren’t good. That is where the problem lies. NARS are spending all this money on Sammy because they know she will give them a good review. And, as she describes the new NARS palette as ‘BEAUTIFUL’ on one of her many Bora Bora Instagram posts, they haven’t been disappointed. For them, the expense is simply a drop in the ocean for the level of advertising the brand gets.

With a NARS mascara costing £22, the brand’s products remain inaccessible to many. That’s why it’s frustrating seeing them splash out so much money on advertising. Obviously, money is the driving force for the majority, if not all, of beauty brands, but in an ideal world it’d be nice to see them lower their prices a bit to enable more people to enjoy their products. After all, the main reason I’m willing to splash out a bit on make-up every now and again is because I enjoy wearing it. As more and more profits can be made, brands seem to have lost sight of this. And, as beauty bloggers are increasingly bribed by brands via free products, gifts and holidays, a lot of them seem to have forgotten why they started blogging in the first place: because they loved make-up and wanted to share that love with others. Call me outdated, but a return to bedroom beauty blogging would be fine by me.

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