I get all sorts of weird and wonderful emails popping up in my inbox, but this week I got a couple that were so strange that I wanted to investigate a bit further. They were both concerning a feature on an on-line newspaper site about some claims a cream is making. Although it is placed in the women’s section, it is written by a staff reporter and not a beauty writer. Instead of the usual ‘I tried this cream and it is awful’ sort of comment, this time the observation was that the case-study featured was not all it seemed. In the case-study (a case-study being an independent person who can vouch or attest to a treatment working (or not) because they have tried it themselves), the user claims the cream is marvellous, really worked for her etc, but both emails I received said the case-study is not a random customer of the brand, but actually a PR for the brand. Her name is changed, where she lives is changed and oddly, so is her age. And, stranger still, in the un-moderated comment section of the piece on the website, there are two comments (anon) that say the same thing; that she is using a pseudonym and works for the brand. A chance meeting with a former employer of the case-study just sealed it really.
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What can I say? Yet again this post shows that your are Queen Bee when it comes to Beauty Blogging – always looking for the story behind the product, always on the side of the consumer and the beauty addict. Keep up the good work!
This is unbelievable. Like you said, it completely undoes the hard work that some PR’s put into the promotion of their product. It’s a complete violation of the consumers trust! x
I think thats why blogging has taken off in such a big way, the very vast majority of bloggers give a genuine review, of course what works for one person may not for another, but at least it’s not made up by that particular individual. I never believe any hype. I remember a certain comapny bought out a cream and they were like ooh it works for 1 in 5 people, all I could think of was the 4 out fo 5 people it didn’t work for!!
i have an idea which newspaper this is. but ok the PR does his/her job. what about the newspaper that runs this?
Brilliant post! I saw the “article” in the ummm daily unnamed publication and the comments regarding the PR person as well. You’ve taken it much further, but are you really surprised at the way they are behaving? I noted (and you know for sure) that that particular company’s parent company is known to send their lawyers in should anyone accuse them of exaggerating the efficacy of their products – which claim to do the impossible.
You’re right that it does pull the whole industry into disrepute and makes consumers distrust everything in the end.
Over here as the beauty community is super small (our ttl population is 5-odd mil), it’s not difficult to know ppl working in the big brands e.g. L’Oreal, etc.
Those advertorials in magazines saying “ABC, age 42 used this and found X% improvement?”. Mostly relatives/frens of e ppl working in these beauty companies.
The average Jane tends to be a media shy, it is v difficult to get ppl to submit a testimonial and get their pictures taken.
If I didn’t work in e beauty industry before, I wouldn’t have known.
Good afternoon BBB
I never buy beauty products reccomended by magazines or newspapers
they say every product is amazing
I have made many expensive mistakes
So I listen to someone who tells you when something works or not
in an honest nonsense way
so a big thankyou BBB
I have absolutely no idea what article this is referring to, or which product, but it is pretty shocking behaviour imo!
People trust these stats when they read them, it’s hard not to most of the time.
This potentially leads them to make not only financial outlays on products linked to these case studies, but also emotional ones – since they/we believe that this could really help us with whatever problem it is that has been really getting us down!
I know of a trial company, in fact I am a member of one where they send out products (mostly not identifiable by any branding either) for a certain amount of their members to try out, with a questionnaire following the trial.
I think that’s why I have always had a bit of faith in case study statistics (to some degree – as I’m sure some people just put as much thought into it as others), as I’ve been part of them and had always assumed that these had to be fully transparent and truthful – especially where advertising standards were concerned.
Very naughty indeed.
I know exactly which article you are talking about and I am very disappointed by it to be honest!
I have a feeling I may know what you’re referring to and just laughed when I saw the article online. The worst part were women in the comment section saying they were eager to purchase the product on the back of the false claims.
This piece further enhances the growing divide between blogging and journalism. Beauty Bloggers now (heralded by Miss Jane Cunningham) absolutely own the rights to the truer meaning of what it means to be a true “reporter” or “journalist” because they tell the truth and are genuinely unbiased. Its interesting that magazines and papers want a piece of what bloggers do by partnering with them. But in essence its completely futile when the two camps couldn’t be further apart. Until the publications get behind the brands in a genuine way and their hands aren’t forced by editor’s and advertisers – this kind of rubbish will continue. Its sad, but the tide is turning.
Interesting post but unfortunately not surprising as I have just finished reading Flat Earth News by Nick Davies, which talks a lot about the blurred line between journalism and PR. Recommended if you want to learn more. I now question a lot of what I read in newspapers, magazines and on the web, which is no bad thing! Identifying what is fact and what is advertising is very difficult so great you got to the bottom of this one.
Ahhh, it was always thus. Back in the old days I worked in the City as an industry analyst and often read news stories I actually knew something about and thought “that is just totally wrong.” Meanwhile you’d learn something truly useful at a conference and wonder why the mainstream media didn’t cover it at all.
My theory is the more you read the papers the dumber you get.