Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Kate Moss ... What Were You Thinking?

Just had to pass this news flash on to you from Adrants ... whose tipsters are telling them that cosmetics company Rimmel, the last Kate Moss holdout, may, after all, drop Moss as spokesmodel. The company is getting pressure form number two distributor Walgreens who, apparently, has said "She goes or we go." Not wanting to risk a serious distribution channel, Rimmel is seriously considering eradicating themselves from association with Moss. Also looming in Rimmel's rear view mirror is retail colossus Wal-Mart who may also a "Moss or us" edict essentially putting Rimmel out of business. It's a fair bet Rimmel will be saying goodbye to Kate Moss very soon.

In a marketing world of competitive advantage, it is refreshing that ethics can still prevail.

What baffles me most, however, is how any intelligent person can take the first hit of a addicting drug that has only one way to drag a person ... now there's a strong message from Corporate America that everyone best stay clean or risk losing your career in one slashing moment.


At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Allan Jenkins said...

Dale, this strikes me as a bit harsh:

In a marketing world of competitive advantage, it is refreshing that ethics can still prevail.

What baffles me most, however, is how any intelligent person can take the first hit of a addicting drug that has only one way to drag a person ... now there's a strong message from Corporate America that everyone best stay clean or risk losing your career in one slashing moment.

First, what "ethics" are prevailing here. All I see in your example is a prudent, but cynical, decision based on profit. Fair enough, that's what business does, but let's not call it an ethics call.

Second, Moss is a British subject and she committed her offense in the UK. Guilty of bad judgement, yes. In need of an intervention? Criminal? Well, the UK police are not seeking indictment, so apparently not. Immoral? Not where we live anyway. Your mileage may vary.

Third, businesses get on a slippery slope when they begin injecting management's "moral" views into business decisions. What vices qualify for dismissal? Drugs? Adultery? Kinky sex? Campaigning for a candidate management doesn't like? Taking a stand on a controversial issue? I'd bet most of Walmart's management (and certainly most of their customers) believe in creationism. Should I not be hired because I think creationism laughable?

Blacklisting employees and vendors because of the political views, their sexual practices, their race, their vices, and their weaknesses is so very 1950s... let's move past that, shall we?

At 12:00 PM, Anonymous ashley robertson said...

Companies use models to sell an image or lifestyle that goes along with their product. Kate Moss’s drug abuse has not been a secret to anyone. In fact, that was her original breakthrough controversy when Calvin Kline started using the ‘waifs’ in his ads because they had a skinny, strung out, look. And that sold.

Now she has been published doing what has, in essence, made her famous and yet she has been dropped from her advertising campaigns as giving them a ‘bad image.’ By hiring Kate Moss it would appear that would be the image that you were trying to sell. These companies have hired her for her party girl image and cut her when she actually lived up to it. It doesn’t seem exactly ethical to me when looking at it from the marketing side.

Do distributors have the power to control the image of a company’s product? Apparently so, it would seem.

Perhaps distributors like Walgreens aren’t taking a stand on a controversial issue, but trying to be careful about what will and will not sell. With companies almost immediately refusing to have Moss as their spokesperson, this event received so much publicity that people are perhaps more hesitant to buy into the image promoted by Moss’s products. The store’s entire purpose is to bring in customers by selling a product that people will buy. If people are not buying the product because of the image that goes along with it than I think they have the right to pull it.

At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Emily said...

I’m with Ashley on this one. These companies knew of Moss’s party girl image and reputation. I think that if the companies Moss worked for wouldn’t have dropped her as soon as the news came out, it wouldn’t be such a hot topic. I believe the companies themselves have created much of the publicity this has received. If Moss’s companies would have let the issue blow over before they made such instant actions, I believe the issue would have died down and not created so much controversy.

Ashley said that companies hire Moss to sell an image. I will never believe that any company in this type of industry would honestly be surprised at a model’s drug use. To me, a model with drug use incidents is about the same as a model with an eating disorder. Shocking, right? Not hardly.

In the end, I guess distributors do have an incredible influence on a manufacturer’s decisions. Ultimately, you have to sell your product. If that means that companies have to drop a spokesperson because of his/her image, which maybe originally sold the product, then drop the person.

Ethics in marketing is one thing, but I also think companies should give people enough credit in their ability to separate makeup from drug use. When I heard about Moss’s drug use, I was neither shocked, nor appalled, nor driven to cut all ties with Rimmel and their product.

At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with Emily and Ashley on this topic. It's no surprise that models have eating disorders and drug problems. However, I don't think it is necessary for companies to drop Kate based on her extracurricular activities.

I understand that it may seem like if a company is supporting her, then they are supporting her drug habit. It may even seem like she is representing the image of the company. But that's not always the case. It is reasonable for a company like Walgreen's that caters more toward families to cut ties with Kate. But, a high fashion company wouldn't suffer that much if they kept Kate as a spokeswoman.

Being careful about how your company is portrayed to your particular audience is important, and sometimes it's necessary to make decisions for the better of your brand name. You have to sell a product. But are the decisions always ethical?

I agree with Emily when she said that a company should acknowledge the public's ability to distinguish between a product and the model who is promoting the product. Kate doesn't change my opinion of Rimmel, Burberry and the other companies that she works for. It will be interesting to see if she keeps clients or is hired by new ones.

At 1:20 AM, Anonymous ErinM said...

I can't say that Kate Moss is my favorite model, not even close. The Calvin Kline ads were not in the same area code as appealing. That aside, while her decision to use drugs was stupid, there are many people fall into that trap. What many people don't do is model for global companies. Whether it is ethical or not, many companies use morals as a guidepost. Allan opposes this a little hard, but if you look at an organization like Chick-fil-A you will see a national organization whose entire concept is Christian-based. None of their stores are open on Sundays, and if they move into a mall they have a caveat in their lease letting them be closed on that day.

Of course Kate Moss isn't going to represent Chick-fil-A anytime soon, but Walgreens and Wal-Mart has the same right to refuse to carry a product attached to an image that conflicts with company morals.

It is an inherent risk when companies hire celebrities to promote their products. When they hired her, they should have and probably did know about her addiction. Rimmel has done what they deemed the best option by keeping Moss as a spokesperson, but I would be surprised if she still has that job next month. If businesses are not allowed to hire and fire based on their ethics (within legal reason), then what kind of business world would it be?

At 4:10 PM, Anonymous Tyler said...

Ethics is a sticky situation when it comes to companies and their management. Knowing exactly how much of your personal ethical background you should place on that of your company is a hard balance to handle. SO what about here? What if the ethics of those at Walgreen's or Wal-Mart or any other company for that matter don't match that of the general public? Like Allen said "Your Mileage may Vary."

Don't get me wrong I don't support the idea of advocating drug use, but on the other hand those two companies have been selling Rimmel products this whole time and they had to be aware that Rimmel (and other companies) originally hired Kate for her "Waif" drugged-out image. Consumers are not naive to the idea that Kate has had a drug problem in the past and obviously we haven't stopped purchasing products she models for. So why the sudden "freak-out" about her drug use and the image it produces?

I am sure that Rimmel will be forced to drop Kate based on the fear of losing two huge distributors, but can we really say their decision is based on ethics? If ethics involves how to stay in business then sure! As for Walgreen and Wal-Mart, they do serve families, that much is true, but how many of those families do you think will decide not to buy Rimmel Make-up from either store based on the recent events. It isn't as if the common consumer has begun boycotting the product.

So was this the ethical decision of their management? Well, if that is the case where were they in the first place when they decided to begin selling Rimmel products whose spokesperson was a confessed drug addict who has been to rehab numerous times? Shouldn't they also be forced to look at every product and their spokesperson and place the same ethical standards to them?

I'm not sure this whole issue send a clear ethical message, I feel like it sends more of a business minded decision. I seriously doubt the many people who religiously buy and wear Rimmel are going to stop because of this situation, they would just have to find some place else to buy it down the street.


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