Tarte Cosmetics made headlines after taking 50 influencers on an expensive and luxurious trip to Dubai in January 2023. Barstool Sports' Jack McGuire made an investigative report on the expenses, speculating that it must have cost around $65,000 per influencer.
Audience members were shocked by Tarte's promotional tactics, even fueling rumors that Tarte fell into "trouble" after spending a lavish amount on the trip. "Guys, Tarte is in trouble after this Dubai trip," said Isabelle Lux on TikTok.
Lux continued, "This was a very expensive trip that came right out of their [Tarte] pockets, but was it actually worth it? The question after the trip was, did any sales improve? Did anything happen? And the answer is no."
The beauty influencer posts screenshots of a job posting from Tarte for a Trade Marketing Senior Coordinator position in New York. "The moment that airplane landed on the floor the next day, there were jobs posted all over the place for marketing positions within Tarte," Lux added. She shares more postings for a Senior Coordinator and a Director of Brand Marketing.
"If that is not insane, I don't know what is," Lux stated. "It obviously shows that for the brand, this whole trip was a complete bust." Was it, though? Lux’s video reached 3.2 million viewers, and it appears Tarte’s CEO and founder – Maureen Kelly – caught wind of the rumor, prompting her to make a funny TikTok to indirectly address them.
Tarte's CEO Didn't Fire Her Entire Marketing Team
In the video, Kelly looks at her phone with a surprised look on her face. The text writes, “Waking up Monday morning scrolling TikTok to find out I fired my entire marketing team." Kelly’s caption takes it even further: “must have been the other tarte ceo 😂,” she joked. So, it seems like Tarte’s marketing team is in good hands!
How Much Money Did Tarte Make from the Dubai Influencer Trip?
While the Dubai trip's impact on sales has yet to be seen, the brand has received a massive increase in social media engagement. In fact, Tarte was able to double its earned media value (EMV) month-over-month! As reported by Tribe Dynamics, Tarte garnered a whopping $19.4 million EMV from January 1 to January 25, up from $10.9 million the month before. The surge in engagement is thanks to the trip's #TrippinWithTarte hashtag on TikTok – meaning the influencer vacation did pay off!
Tarte’s controversial marketing also caused a split between users. Some felt the trip was "tone deaf" for taking place during a time when millions of Americans are struggling. "Am I the only one who thinks this is a really weird marketing move from Tarte?” said one TikToker. "I kind of feel they’re being a little tone-deaf. In this economy, it’s so unrelatable.”
Tarte’s Maureen Kelly was well aware of the backlash. "This isn’t our first trip, but I can, of course, understand how people may have a knee-jerk reaction to seeing content overload like this,” she wrote in an email to Vogue. Kelly continued, "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."
She added, "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.”
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