Big brands aiming to reach millions of consumers across the Arab world are rethinking their influencer budgets after a video by the Kuwaiti blogger Sondos Al-Qattan went viral last week.
Beauty brands rushed to disassociate themselves from Sondos Al-Qattan after her video criticizing new provisions to protect Filipino domestic worker went viral.
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Al-Qattan, a make-up artist who has 2.3 million followers on Instagram, sparked an international outcry on social media as users demanded brands withdraw their support.
The calls came in response to her widely circulated comments criticizing a new Kuwaiti law granting Filipino domestic workers one holiday per week.
The provisions also removed the employer’s right to withhold their passport and required 22 days annual leave for workers.
The incident comes as a wake-up call for global and regional brands eager to enlist the region’s most prominent blogger to tap into the lucrative Middle East market.
“Brands definitely have a bigger responsibility to look behind the number of engagements and actually look into the influencers’ ideas, ethics and attitude,” said Amer Massimi, CEO of Starfish Influencers Agency, which operates a mobile app with more than 5000 people from countries across the GCC.
Cosmetics companies, including Max Factor Arabia, MAC Cosmetics, Chelsea Beautique, Anatasia Beverly Hills and French perfume brand M. Micallef — who have all since cut ties with Al-Qattan — watched social media sentiment shift against them as users suggested they prioritized the value of a large following over their ambassadors’ ethics.
Most of the beauty brands formerly linked to Al-Qattan have since severed ties and issued statements strongly denying their association with the views expressed in her post, which has received millions of views across multiple platforms.
Cosmetics Giant Max Factor Arabia said it was “shocked” at Al-Qattan’s remarks and Chelsea Beautique posted a statement on Twitter saying: “We believe that decent working conditions should be provided to everyone and such behavior does not represent our brand’s core beliefs.”
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