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Tarte and Influencer Marketing: There’s a Way to Do It Right



The influencer marketing recipe is well-established. Select influencers who attract a certain audience and fly them out to a tropical location for sun, fun and product placement. Organic reach across social, particularly TikTok, Instagram and YouTube are off the charts. Marketing = sorted.

Except, that doesn’t work anymore. What once was aspirational is now exclusionary, making customers (whose spending makes these types of trips possible) feel invisible due to their lack of followers.

Tarte Cosmetics is learning this the hard way through the backlash it’s receiving for its “Welcome to Trippin’ With Tarte” campaign, specifically the trip they sponsored for 30 social media influencers to Bora Bora. The trip consisted of flights on private jets for influencers and their plus ones, a four-night stay at the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora and rooms filled with gifts upon arrival.

The subsequent social posts by the influencers have sparked a wave of negative feedback online from Tarte consumers.

The sentiment of exclusion is exacerbated by influencers on the trip using Fergie’s song “Glamorous” for their TikTok featuring them on the private jet for the trip. Specifically queuing up the lyric “if you don’t have no money, take your broke ass home” really drives home the point that this is a parade of haves, and yet this display was created to make people want to hand over their purses to Tarte.

You know, the broke people at home watching TikTok. According to the comment section, that will not be happening.

Now, a once passionate customer base can’t wait to find a new product to purchase instead. Here are three brand lessons from the Bora Bora influencer trip that Tarte Cosmetics is learning the hard way.

Consumers want relatable

As an audience, we’ve made it clear we want relatable content. We’re busy watching all 50 episodes of Reesa Teesa’s story and going down other rabbit holes of people’s lives.

We want stories and connection. There is nothing relatable about seeing people who can afford a product getting whisked away on an all-expense paid trip just to get more product, while the rest of us try to get through our day. In reviewing comments, the one influencer that everyone was rooting for was Samantha Jo and her mom on the trip. She comes across as having fun and grateful for the trip. In one word: relatable.

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