It was meant to be the biggest social media reveal of the year.
Fans of Kardashian family member Kendall Jenner were left fuming after what was supposed to be a ‘raw’ personal message from the social media queen turned out to be nothing more than a paid advertising campaign.
Instead of the ‘brave’ and ‘vulnerable’ story fans had been promised, the model and reality TV star announced on Twitter that she was the new face of the acne skincare brand Proactiv, bitterly disappointing the internet.
It started when mother and manager Kris Jenner tweeted that her daughter would be revealing ‘her most raw story’ yet.
‘Be prepared to be moved,’ she later tweeted.
I’m so proud of my darling @KendallJenner for being so brave and vulnerable. Seeing you share her most raw story in order to make a positive impact for so many people and help foster a positive dialogue is a testament to the incredible woman you’ve become. pic.twitter.com/rJUXdN2Wmq
— Kris Jenner (@KrisJenner) January 5, 2019
Sadly, the only thing ‘real’ about this story is Jenner’s lucrative contract with Proactive.
— Kendall (@KendallJenner) January 7, 2019
The backlash on social media was swift, with angry fans previously speculating the reveal would either be a heartfelt #MeToo or coming out revelation.
Thats your huge secret? Having acne? pic.twitter.com/3h1QmOxm71
— Sav 🥀 (@theonesav) January 7, 2019
Social followers also complained that it’s unlikely the millionaire catwalk model would be using a mainstream product like Proactiv to cure her acne in the first place.
Kris made it sound like you were bout to come out, then you hit us with a commercial 🤦🏼♀️😂
— Eighme™ (@jen_eighme8034) January 7, 2019
With the angry response on social media, many have dubbed the campaign another ad fail by the star, following the negative reaction to the star’s appearance in a 2016 Pepsi ad.
However, consumer psychologist Adam Ferrier of Thinkerbell told Your Money Live that the promotion worked just as it should have.
“It’s one of those weird ones. People see right through it, but it works anyway,” the ad exec told Your Money Live.
Despite the furor, Ferrier says the backlash isn’t likely to have any negative impact on Jenner’s brand name.
“That will be forgotten about tomorrow, whereas the deal will live on. So it’s not a mis-step at all,” he said.
“At the moment, she just stays in the news cycle and that’s what’s really important to her and the Kardashians. They’re part of popular culture, whether good or bad and staying part of popular culture is what they’re about.”
Celebrity endorsement has become an increasingly popular tool for brands to reach the mainstream eye.
Previously unknown brands have been propelled into the spotlight by securing lucrative contracts with stars or influencers on social media.
Australian teeth-whitening company HiSmile shot to global fame overnight after inking a deal for Kendall’s sister Kylie to post about the brand on Instagram.
“There’s a great saying in consumer psychology, ‘the actual self, plus brand equals ideal self.’ So people use brands to plug a little hole of insecurity to help amplify an ideal version of themselves,” explained Ferrier.
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“Celebrity endorsement is a great way to appeal to our ideal self and Proactiv are masters of this, they spend about 12 million a year with celebrity endorsement.”
“It’s a really interesting dilemma because at the moment brands are trying to provide this aspirational image of who we want to be, your ideal self. Yet at the moment we’re all being told to accept ourselves as who we are and be your authentic self.”
“Reality TV stars make the perfect example of that because they’re people that have become famous for being themselves, therefore they’re in high demand because they’re aspirational, yet they’re also betraying their sense of reality,”
“It’s also the reason Proactiv was so keen to say why it was so ‘raw’ and real’ because you get the celebrity aspiration yet you get the supposed realness as well.”
Ferrier says the case of Proactiv is particularly interesting because a pimple cream wouldn’t normally be associated with being aspirational.
“Because they’ve got such a good track record of aligning with celebrities, it has become acceptable for big names to be associated with it,” Ferrier explained.
Watch full the interview with Ferrier in the video above.