An Open Letter to L’Oreal

Mr. Agon,

The beauty and fashion industry prides itself on being a trend setting institution. Leaders in your industry—and you are such a leader—always have an eye on the horizon, looking for the “next big thing.” The desired objective of this future-focus is to remain on the cutting edge of what’s socially acceptable in order to shape trends. This is always risky, of course, and there is always the chance that you will overreach or underperform. And when your products court controversy, there is also the risk of inflaming the wrong kind of passion.

We believe aesthetics, and profits, are not the sole metrics of success. Customers demand corporate responsibility from the brands they patronize. While efforts to address ethical questions with regard to animal research and living wages for employees have been slowly making progress over the past few decades, we continue to see a lack of such attention to the responsible marketing of fashion and beauty products.

L’Oreal’s fragrance brand Yves Saint Laurent has recently launched a massive marketing campaign for Black Opium, with the slogan “Addictive. Magnetic. Do you feel the call?” In the midst of the worst drug epidemic in the history of the United States, we at NCADA believe it is breathtakingly insensitive to sexualize and glorify opioids or their use. It’s inconceivable that, with 197 Americans dying every day from overdoses, your marketing team was unaware of the troubling implications of such messaging.

Opium was first launched in 1977, followed by Black Opium in 2014. The desire to maintain a fragrance line that has lasted decades is understandable. However, in this case, at this time, it is irresponsible. Instead of investing in a marketing campaign to promote an ill-conceived name, resources would be far better put to use in an effort to rebrand the fragrance. We ask that you pull the product from store shelves and immediately cease the current advertising and promotion of “addictive, magnetic” opium.

Tragically, Mr. Agon, too many already “feel the call.” Too many lives are being lost. Attempts to profit while people are losing their lives to real opium is the height of cruelty.

Thank you for your consideration.

Nichole Dawsey

Executive Director

Categories: Commentary

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