Brands pay big bucks for negative reviews of competitors, says MUA

In another attempt to increase transparency in influencer marketing, a makeup artiste has exposed the beauty industry. Kevin James Bennett, a successful cosmetic developer, responded with facts–to Marlena Stell’s Ugly Truth video. According to Bennett, social media influencers included ― participate in what he calls “mobster-like behavior.”

Marlena Stell is a renowned makeup artiste and the face behind ‘Makeup Geek’ on Youtube and blog. She also owns businesses– cosmetic and fashion line, under her brand. However, two days ago, Marlena posted a quite ‘controversial’ video on her Youtube. In this video, she accuses everyone in the beauty industry– from brands to influencers, of ‘backstabbing’.

She added that while some influencers are just trying to make a name for themselves and share their love of cosmetics online, others are “doing it because they just want to be famous.” Stell described this as a problem today because it makes it hard to differentiate between who’s real and who’s not.
“It’s difficult to be an influencer and put yourself out there publicly,” she said. “However, there’s a difference between making a good living for yourself and charging so much that there comes a sense of entitlement. And I think that’s where the problem is right now.

Kevin Bennett agrees with Marlena and shares his experience

On his Instagram, Kevin explicitly gave Marlena a pat on the back for her bravery. He said, “I’d like to thank @marlenastell for having the courage to publish a YouTube video exposing what’s going on behind the scenes in the cosmetic industry. 
I’ve attempted to shed light on the mobster-like behavior of top-level beauty influencers and their management… and I’ve been accused of jealousy, called a liar and hater”.

Next, Bennett tells it all about his experience with a brand (anonymous). In his caption, he referred to them as facts. Here’s what he said:

A brand I consulted with asked me to inquire about working with a top-level beauty influencer. The influencer’s management offered me these options:

1) $25K – product mention in a multi-branded product review. 
2) $50K-$60K – dedicated product review (price determined by length of video).
3) $75K-$85K – dedicated negative review of a competitor’s product (price determined by length of video).
4) A minimum 10% affiliate link or code to use on IG and YT.”

With emphasis on the 3rd fact, he admitted that “option #3 is legit – payment to damage the competition’s business”. Yet, he likes to think of such behavior as “mob-like”. 

Kevin argues that this behavior greatly threatens the beauty industry

“The demands and threats of ‘influencers’ and their management have GOT TO STOP. The lack of disclosure by top-level influencers is FRAUD and it’s time for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to step in, start charging fines and shut this bullsh*t down. 
To the followers/subs who STILL refuse to believe their idols are thugs – pull your head out of your favorite beauty influencer’s ass and SEE what’s actually going on in this industry”.

brands pay
Bennett’s Instagram post in support of Marlena’s video. Source: Instagram
He further explains to HuffPost that “he’s not hating anyone’s hustle”

Bennett followed up his post by sharing this with HuffPost.
“We all work hard and deserve compensation. 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)”.

He continued:

“People are spending their hard earned money on products glorified by beauty and fashion influencers. It’s dishonest not to alert your followers/subscribers that the vendor is compensating your review. It doesn’t matter if you are receiving free product, an affiliate link or code kick-back, gifts, trips, or cash – you must be transparent and let people know. Unfortunately, many influencers don’t, because they know people wouldn’t be so quick to trust their recommendations if they were aware that the glowing review was in actuality a compensated sales pitch”.

Beauty: MUA claims brands pay big bucks for negative reviews of competitors

“People are spending their hard earned money on products glorified by beauty and fashion influencers. It’s dishonest not to alert your followers/subscribers that the vendor is compensating your review”.

Mixed reactions to all these accusations

First, beauty and wellness blogger, Hey Aprilltweeted a screenshot of Bennett’s Instagram caption with the caption, “your favorite beauty influencer gets paid $75K for a negative review of a competitor brand.”

Then, another beauty influencer, Pretty Pastel, posted a 40-min long Youtube video confirming all of Marlena’s claims. Whew!

Conversely, in what seems like a counter claim, James Charles, CoverGirl’s first male ambassador, replied Hey Aprill’s tweet, saying he’d “never heard” of influencers charging $75,000.

Watch Marlena’s video below and let us know what you also think by leaving a comment

Amanda Lucy


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