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This post was supposed to be a review of the Baby Phat x Forever 21 collection. Instead, I’m here today to talk about how the struggle of creating content in the era of problematic brands. We have to think twice before mentioning a brand, let alone collaborating with one. The long term effects that their f*ckery can have on our brand is way too risky. Every time I look up, there’s another brand under fire for something new. Quite honestly, it’s exhausting af.
What does Baby Phat, namely the founder Kimora Lee Simmons, have to do with cancel culture? Well, if you haven’t seen one of the latest episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, I’ll explain.
As you may recall, earlier this year the Kardashian Klan was under fire after Khloe attempted to drag family friend, Jordyn Woods, for allegedly sleeping with her serial cheating
husband man Tristan Thompson. In a recently aired episode, we see Kimora Lee Simmons being incredibly childish, pushing Khloe to bully Jordyn and to blast her because Khloe “looks weak.” I’m not saying that Kimora is the sole reason why Khloe attempted to use social media to drag Jordyn’s name through the mud, but as a grown ass woman who has a child the same age as Jordyn, it was disappointing to watching her give such poor advice.
I was scheduled to film my review of the F21 Baby Phat collection the day that this disastrous episode of KUWTK aired. Ultimately, I made the decision not to shoot it. After sleeping on it for a few days, I felt like I’d be doing myself a disservice not because social media has canceled Baby Phat and Kimora Lee Simmons, but because it didn’t feel right. While I know I shouldn’t make life decisions based on made for TV reality when someone shows me their true colors (real life or not), I listen and act accordingly.
There are so many popularized yet problematic IG brands within the realm of influencer marketing. How do influencers enthusiastically push their audience to spend their hard earned money knowing the real tea?
Cancel culture and shady sponsorships are not the same. However, they are two things that a creative must be mindful of. A lot of shady brands thrive although many people have canceled them or questioned if the products work. Why? Because the dollars that are attached to sponsorships. In my Carrie Bradshaw voice I must ask “As creatives, where do we draw the line between promoting products that we don’t fully trust or believe in for the sake of building a relationship with a brand and declining opportunities that don’t sit well with your audience when your bills need to be paid?
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Jackie Aina recently uploaded a video speaking about some of the brands that she’d never collab with—some of which are very popular brands for ongoing influencer sponsorships. Her no-go sponsorships include teeth whitening, diet teas, and Fashion Nova, to name a few. Whether you’re a fan of Jackie or not, we can all agree that she ‘s on to something. No matter what, these brands/ sponsorships seem inauthentic. However, both influencers and some of their fans turn a blind eye.
The one difference between us small creatives and a creative of Jackie Aina’s caliber? Opportunities are knocking left and right on their door. Mega influencers declining a teeth whitening kit sponsorship or sending Fashion Nova back their money wouldn’t affect them nearly as much. A smaller creator, on the other hand, doesn’t have that luxury. Though brands and now looking more closely to working with micro-influencers (under 1 million) and nano-influencers(under 10,000), declining an opportunity from a “problematic brand” may be the determining factor or whether your eating ramen or a balanced diet for the month.
Cancel culture doesn’t work and is pretty toxic. However, it has forced creatives to approach working with and promoting problematic brands with caution.
Social media and cancel culture allows consumers to make informed purchases like never before. Furthermore, it forces creators to make better decisions in regards to the brands we choose to align ourselves with. This goes for both paid and unpaid alignments. On the flipside, brands have to work overtime to avoid and sometimes fix PR nightmares—this means being authentic with how they approach their business — but also knowing, those creators that will do anything for a check vs those who won’t.
Scrapping Baby Phat x Forever21 review was a hard decision for me to make. I was genuinely excited about the launch, and I felt it would generate a lot of engagement for me. However, my morals and gut instincts kicked in. I ultimately made the best decision for myself and my brand.
If you were offered a high paying opportunity to collab with a brand that could potentially tarnish your brand in the long run, would you accept or decline? Chime in below or on Twitter.