#MascaraGate: What Happened and Why Honesty & Authenticity Are Still Important – Ep. 47

James Nord
February 8, 2023
Updated Feb 09, 2024

Welcome to Negronis with Nord. In today’s episode, we dive into Mikayla Nogueira's L'Oréal's Telescopic Lift mascara review (aka #MascaraGate). Plus, how influencers’ focus should still be on protecting and building trust with their audience, advice for solo entrepreneurs, and the “de-influencing” trend.

You can submit your questions for future episodes here.

Below is a transcript of the full episode for your reading pleasure. Make sure to subscribe to the Fohr YouTube channel to get notified of new episodes.

Recapping our 10 Year Anniversary party

James: Welcome Negronis with Nor - Welcome, Negronis with Nord. Episode 47.

We did it dry. January is over Fittingly. I'm told y'all I would go back to Negroni's, but I'm drinking Alka Seltzer right now. Okay, so we had the 10-year anniversary party last night. Obviously dry January, end of the day early for many people last night. So the office is running a little slower than usual today. I think I've been generally on a sweet green tear on this show. No big surprise here. But dry kale is not a great hangover food. You know, some people have like a greasy burger. I would say I've tried it. Dry kale does not work.

So we had the 10-year anniversary party. We had some 10-year merch as well, this tote, which, oh yeah, there we go. Look at that. Very nice. We'll throw up a, this is a homage to a Wells Fargo ad from the 1960s that I found that I really liked, that talked about like what Wells Fargo was and what it is now.

And so we kind of did a, a spin on that. They were like a carriage company initially, that's why they've got the carriage thing, but they were like they ran, I think like transport carriages for people or something. And now a bank that scams people. So <laugh>, I don't know what the lesson is there. We also have a sweatshirt. Let's see, I haven't actually seen a sweatshirt yet. It's got the building on the back there drawn. So yeah, I'm showing this to you. You can't have it. It's, there's none extra. I'm not giving any of it away. This stuff is not cheap.

I gave a toast last night. I, I kind of walked through some of the lessons that I had learned over the last 10 years and, you know, I'm not gonna go through all of those, but one of them aptly was talking about celebrating your wins and making sure that, you know, you take that time and you know when something good happens to properly celebrate it.

And I think that can be hard when you're like a solo entrepreneur or you're doing this, or excuse the barking. It's, we're just gonna live with it. It's fine. We have three dogs in the office today. They're all very excited to be hanging out with each other. So if you hear barking, that's, that's what's happening.

Advice for a solo entrepreneur: Celebrate your wins

James: As solo entrepreneur, it can be hard. Give yourself that space to, to celebrate those things, even if it's, you know, even if it's something small that you do. I do think it is important to create a sense of occasion. Certainly, as you start to get a team it's important to celebrate those wins. I think that like, it's something we, we did a lot of when the company was really small because the wins were so important. You don't want to get into a place where you know, when the thing that you have wanted to happen happens and you just kind of breeze by it.

And important to celebrate those things. I'd love to, you know, look, I'm 38. I'm <laugh>, I'm the same. Our first rodeo. I have got like my path of things that I feel like I need to do to come in and be have a good day in the office. Now it is much harder to kind of come in hungover and less enjoyable. Give me your gimme your, what's your, what's your hangover cure? What's your, like, what, what's your go-to? For me, very hot shower is important and I have to get a workout in, even if it's like a terrible workout at some point in the day. Like, I need at least, you know, 20 or 30 minutes of sweating and that like resets me pretty well. But gimme yours in the, in the comments. You might have something extraordinary to share with the group that we could all benefit from.

First, let's talk about honesty & authenticity

James: Let's talk about mascara. Let's get down to real important things. Did MiKayla put on Falsies or not in her before and after for the mascara sponsored post that she did.

There is (surprise) a lot of people upset on TikTok about something meaningless and innocuous. It has forced its way into the conversation. And I think it is worth talking about.

The foundation of anything that you are going to do in this space as an influencer has to be honesty and authenticity, right? Authenticity kicked around a lot worth, like double tapping into what that means. It is honesty. People believe you. They feel that you're being authentic if you are being honest. And so your audience's trust in you is the currency that you have. It is the thing that drives your ability to continue to work with brands. It is eroded over time. You know, too many sponsored posts, too many of the same kinds of sponsored posts.

That's why we talk all the time about, you know, making sure that you protect and build that trust. That means limiting your partnerships. That means making sure that you're doing non-sponsored product reviews as well. It means giving honest product recommendations or feedback.

"That's why we talk all the time about making sure that you protect and build that trust. That means limiting your partnerships. That means making sure that you're doing non-sponsored product reviews as well. It means giving honest product recommendations or feedback." - James Nord

You know, not every product is perfect, and I think that the influencer space doesn't have as much that I think journalism does, is that like honest critique of products, right? You can say, I really love this product. There's this one thing I don't like about it, and I feel like, you know, those are the things that kind of build that authenticity. Now, you obviously can't do that in a sponsored post, right? No brand's gonna pay you to say there's something you don't like about the product.

Now, let's talk #MascaraGate & advertising

James: Let's talk about Mikayla. Was she wearing false eyelashes? I will say, if it was our campaign and was a mascara campaign and a influencer did it before without eyelashes in an after-whip and didn't say I am putting on false eyelashes, I think that's something our team would've flagged and we would've made them reshoot the content.

It is misleading. Again, it's just not honest. And so if honesty and authenticity are the same, then obviously it's that like, just doesn't make sense. And it's, it's not a good, it's not a good use of the brand's money if she didn't disclose it and she did put eyelashes on. I do think that like, that isn't great.

You know, I think that the conversation around advertising being misleading is a bit naive. We've been talking a little bit about the naivete on TikTok. We talked about it a bit with the Tarte, you know, the, the Tarte drama in Dubai and, and how there's not a clear understanding of just how much money brands have and how marketing budgets actually work. And now everyone is upset that advertising is maybe a little bit misleading, but also that's like, that's what advertising is. I mean, unfortunately, I think what makes influencers so interesting is that we have come to believe that advertisers are lying to us, and they spent decades in ways that, again, eroded the trust so much that that advertising stopped working.

And it is what has allowed influencer marketing to thrive and to be doing so well. And so it is again, why we need to protect it so much and make sure we don't go down that path. But of course, when you're working on an ad, you're gonna do whatever you can to make things look a little bit better. We was talking about any before and after where maybe the lighting is a little harsh and you know, they're just wearing a t-shirt and then the after, let's say it's a foundation, and then the after they're in like, you know, evening wear and they've got a necklace and they've got jewelry and they've got their hair done. And, and so yes, you are looking at the foundation, but the foundation is like elevated by all of these other things. If somebody is doing a sponsored post for Old Navy and they're, they have a Chanel bag over their shoulder, you know, it's going to make that sweater look better, right?

Like we do those things to kind of elevate and make a more compelling story. Creating a compell, creating a compelling [inaudible], creating a compelling, oh my God, that's the hangover. Creating a compelling narrative and lying are two different things, right? And, and there is a line and we do not want to cross that line. And I think as an influencer, you have to make sure that you're protecting that line and that while you know, you might do things to elevate the products that you're working with to tell that more compelling story, that you're not outright lying, you're not misleading.

With Mikayla, it's a great example of while, you know, she will go on and this won't really affect, you know, her ability to make money, and she's been on the up and up and she's been having a crazy couple of years, and this is not going to change that.

This has probably taken a bigger chunk out of her credibility and than she would've liked. And there's, you know, a group of people, brands, et cetera, you know, now the first thing they think about when they think about her is going to be this controversy and, and potentially what is perceived to be her lying in a sponsored post and misleading their audience, which, you know, might impact the business.

The other thing is, is we think about trust, and this is something we talk to our team about all the time with our clients, is that when that trust is broken, people get like on alert and now they're looking for it, right? And so there is going to be so much more scrutiny around everything that she does, right? And if, if in two weeks somebody finds something else that they think is misleading or dishonest, it's gonna blow up again and then something else, and then something else, right?

And so like when you break that trust, you create that tension. Now the other party is, they're saying like, I'm being lied to, or this person is not doing a good job, or they're not trustworthy, right? And you can see this in your own relationships, right? That like when, when somebody does something ****** up that like, you start looking out for that more, and that's, it's a protection thing. Something that she would've done two weeks ago that nobody noticed could be a big drama two weeks from now, right? And so that's, that's a really dangerous place to be. And again, best to avoid it by just being honest.

On de-influencing

Now, this kind of goes into another topic that I want to dive in more deeply. I think we might bring on some other people from the team and maybe some influencers to talk about this idea of de-influencing.

It's been going around on TikTok and elsewhere. There is also generally a kind of pushback against consumerism, hyper-consumerism, you know, also a natural side effect of a slowing economy. Is everyone rethinking their spending habits and what they need and how healthy the consumer behavior that they have is or is not? I want to dive into that more deeply.

I think the point that I will say now, we don't make rational decisions. I think sometimes when we're critiquing capitalism or consumerism, there is a, a level of logic that is applied to the way that we are behaving. That is, again, I think naive and maybe willful, willfully ignorant of what is actually happening. A big part of the things that we purchase is about how it makes us feel. And there was an example in the de influencing about like Dior makeup and how like it's, it's, you know, it's cheap and it's, it's overpriced.

You shouldn't be paying for it. And like it's a ripoff, of course it's a ******* ripoff. But if pulling a Dior pallet out of your purse makes you feel a little fancy, if that like elevates your day a little bit, if you just think it's a beautiful object and you, you enjoy it, then like, it's not overpriced. If you were buying it to try and impress other people, cons, what's called conspicuous consumption, you know, that's probably a less healthy place to be. That's more of like a therapy conversation than like than anything else. But I think ultimately, you know, the things that you buy should make you happy. They should, you know, I think what's so great about the world today, verse 20 years ago is there's so much choice. You can support brands that you believe in. You can support brands that believe in the causes that you believe in.

If you can support more black-owned brands and you can support more women-owned brands or indie brands or whatever they might be, but you can actually use your money to to, to do that, or you can not, you know, and it's, it's, it's about making yourself happy as far as value goes. If you are deriving value from it and it feels like it's worth it to you then you don't actually have to explain that to anyone else as long as you're not, you know, putting yourself into some sort of unnecessary financial strain. I generally would avoid debt if at all possible and make sure you continue to live within your means. But outside of that, go ******* crazy. Do whatever you want. I think this de-influencing thing is interesting. It's also, you know, having been in this for 10 years, this is not the first time an anti-consumerism by less trend has come up. It's not going to be the last time, but we'll dive into it a little bit more. If you have any questions or thoughts or comments on de-influencing let us know. We're gonna dive into that in another episode. As always, send your questions. I'm gonna be in fighting shape next week. We're gonna be back to drinking the adult beverages on the show. And I will see you in a week.


Cheers, and thanks for watching.

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