US brand Tarte Cosmetics took a group of influencers to Dubai this week on a lavish all-expenses-paid trip. In the midst of an economic downturn, public opinion is polarised.
Tarte flew 50 beauty influencers and their plus-ones to Dubai for an extravagant 3-day trip. As content poured in across TikTok from stars like Alix Earle, Monet McMichael and Meredith Duxbury, backlash bubbled up. Is the midst of a cost-of-living crisis the best time to flaunt a lavish vacation?
Some users were excited about the trip and its high-profile attendees. But others felt an opulent trip to Dubai was inappropriate when the US and Europe are facing an economic downturn. “Am I the only one who thinks this is a really weird marketing move from Tarte?” asked TikTok creator Lindsay Borow, who has over 21,000 followers. “I kind of feel they’re being a little tone-deaf. In this economy, it’s so unrelatable.”
Tarte trip, flew guests on Emirates business class from across the US and Europe. The influencers are staying in private villas filled to the brim with Tarte makeup, plus gifts and goodies from other brands.
“Every day, brands make decisions about how to spend their marketing budgets. For some companies, that means a huge Super Bowl commercial or a multi-million-dollar contract with a famous athlete or musician,” says Tarte founder and CEO Maureen Kelly. “We’ve never done traditional advertising, and instead, we invest in building relationships and building up communities. We hope that as people see what we’re doing together and what we’re all about, they’ll understand and have a stronger connection with Tarte.”
Tarte is not paying for posts about the trip, it confirms, and most of the guests have posted multiple videos already. Alix Earle, one of the talents, is one of TikTok’s fastest-growing beauty influencers (her following has surged from just under 900,000 followers in November to 3.9 million). She posted nine TikToks of the trip as of Friday, with a combined total of 33 million views. A post from any of the influencers on the trip would normally cost in excess of $100,000, Cifcili estimates.