Rage Against The Machine

We need to talk about Kendall Jenner.

For brands, the Kardashian family are the pinnacle of influencer marketing. From detox tea to fashion brands like Pretty Little Thing, having a Kardashian back your product can mean the difference between success or failure.

Proactiv, I’m sure, thought the same.

Today’s announcement that Kendall Jenner has partnered with the skincare brand should have been a coup. The 23-year-old talking about how its skincare regime has helped her become the world’s highest paid model, should have, on the face of it (no pun intended) been one of the best brand partnerships we’ve ever seen.

Except it’s not. It’s an embarrassing, self-indulgent campaign, and one Proactiv should be ashamed of.

When Kris Jenner – the matriarch of the Kardashian-Jenner family – announced last week that Kendall was going to make a life changing, brave announcement, young girls, boys and fans across the world held their breath.

The hashtags Kris included #bethechange, #changetheconversation, #mydaughterinspiresme, #finallyasolution, #shareyourstory and #authenticity. In another post, she heralded Kendall for “being so brave and vulnerable” and sharing “her most raw story in order to make a positive impact for so many people“.

I, along with others, thought with hashtags like that, it must be serious. Finally, a Kardashian speaking out about real world problems.

Would she be coming out? Would she be supporting the MeToo movement? Was she making a stand for the LGBTQIA+ community, or launching a charity campaign for children of trans-parents? Had she experienced food disorders while in the modelling industry and wanted to help survivors? The rumours were rife, and emotionally-charged.

But no.

Kendall’s most raw story, tweeted on Sunday night, was that she was embarrassed about her spots at last year’s Golden Globes, and was now an ambassador for Proactiv skincare.

In that one tweet, she destroyed any credibility or strength we all assumed, for a split second, that she had. The memories of her dire and socially-deaf Pepsi-Cola advert came flooding back, and we realised, once again, that we were the stupid ones for thinking any different. For one of the world’s biggest influencers with 27million followers, the sheer unbelievable audacity of the campaign is showcased in the mere 37k ‘likes’.

Of course, she wouldn’t be supporting anything so serious as bullying, mental health, LGBTQIA+ communities, or the MeToo movement. How silly we were to even consider it.

But having realised I expected no different from the money-making machine of the Kardashian-Jenners, my main criticism is for Proactiv. 

Because they must have known about the Kris Jenner tweet. Did they approve the use of the hashtags? The sentiment of the message? Surely, they knew the impact these words would have after the past year of women’s rights and global calls for equality?

The problem is, influencers have now become so important to brands, that marketing teams are almost happy to play backseat yes-men – reluctant to ensure a campaign sticks to their true values and stays on message.

There’s a general forgetfulness that if the brand is paying the influencer, the influencer is working for them. Yes, it’s important to match the style of the influencer, but it is your role as a marketing team to ensure the brand values and tone of voice are portrayed favourably – even when partnering with the world’s most eligible influencer family.

It feels to me like Proactiv have been overrun by the machine.

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