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Brands Are Paying In Fluencers $75K to Trash Their Competitors



According to a report, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been cracking down on Instagram influencers over the past three years. They are forcing them to disclose brand partnership and sponc on with a simple hashtag ((#ad or #paid are preferred) or built-in branded partner ID tools.

Despite all that, business is still a success. Even teens are getting a piece of the sponcon “pie.” However, as the industry grows, and companies become more independent in this stealthy form of advertising, it seems like real money and shenanigans are no longer the main courses of affairs, but brutal take downs.

Emmy Award-winning makeup artist and cosmetics developer Kevin James Bennett set the beauty influencer aflame on Tuesday with his Instagram post. In the post, Bennett describes the management teams and high-profile beauty influencers he was in contact with for reviews of beauty products he plans to release under his own name as having a “mob-like behavior.”

Bennett claims the influencers offered to trash a different product in comparison to Bennett’s product for the sum of $75 - $85K. Bennett also pointed out the all too common practice of avoiding disclosure requirements. Bennett then urged the FTC to start handing out fines.

Bennett’s post was in response to Marlene Stell’s – owner of Makeup Geek Cosmetics and popular beauty influencer with over 2 million followers on Instagram and YouTube – viral video. The video was titled “My truth regarding the beauty industry” and in it, Stell admits that in the past year, her company has struggled with finding an influencer to represent her brand.

“We don’t have $60,000 to pay someone to do one video — and that’s the rates that we’ve been given,” said Stell. She also mentioned hearing that the owners of “million dollar companies” have shared similar concerns about influencers charging obscenely without bringing in much traffic.

“I’m not hating anyone’s hustle,” Bennett told The Outline over email. “We all work hard and deserve compensation for our hard work. What I find upsetting is the pervasive lack of transparency and ethical behavior. Legally (as per the FTC), you must disclose if you are being sponsored or compensated for a published review (print or online).”

Bennetts post made viral numbers after James Charles attacked it on Twitter. “I’ve NEVER heard of this happening and believe what you want, but most of us DO disclose sponsorships,” Charles wrote.“I can’t wait to talk about people like the man who posted this in a video very soon. 😒”

Charles’ comments led other popular beauty influencers to rally to Bennett’s defense.

. “This is very real and happens every day,” wrote the owner of Pretty Pastel Please, a fashion, and makeup blogger with over 200,000 followers on YouTube and Instagram.

“I'm glad that James has never experienced it first hand, but as someone that has seen it themselves in their role in marketing and in their time as an influencer, I hope I can help shed some light on this for you.”