Monday, April 3, 2017

CoverGirl: The First Ever CoverGirl Male (2016)

CoverGirl's "So Lashy" Campaign
CoverGirl is a worldwide known cosmetics brand and has been known for its use of celebrities for being their “cover girls”, but on October 11th, 2016, James Charles became the first male to be CoverGirl’s cover guy. “James Charles will appear in campaigns for CoverGirl’s newest mascara, “So Lashy.” The brand explained that its newest launch is designed to work on all lash types… he is perfect person to front the campaign” (Feldman, 2016). He will represent CoverGirl because “CoverGirls” are role models who break the boundaries and are able to express themselves without any fear about what others say. James Charles is the perfect person to represent CoverGirl because he is confident and fearless when it comes to putting his makeup work on social media for millions of people to criticize him for being a boy who is into makeup (Feldman, 2016). 
James Charles in the new ad for CoverGirl's "So Lashy" mascara
     Makeup is typically only supposed to be worn by woman so by having a male represent a cosmetic product, it can either make or break the company. Men are supposed to be rugged and tough while women are supposed to appear flawless and soft. Many older generations in society are against people changing social norms. “The topic of gender confusion and transgenderism has been the subject of much controversy in the United States, with conservative voices…speaking out against movements that seek to teach children that…they want to be on any given day” (Zaimov, 2016). This shows that many conservative people are against people expressing themselves with whatever gender they choose to be. 
     With a male being the spokesman for CoverGirl’s new product, it causes a lot negative responses on social media and on other social platforms like blogs. “Many trolls on social media went onto James Charles’ Instagram page to comment negative things about his CoverGirl sponsorship. One comment read, “’@CoverGirl by definition, you might want to reconsider the name of your brand since this new change of your cover’” (Szilagyi, 2016). The main controversy is the how people are not willing to be okay with CoverGirl broadcasting males as wearing makeup. Another example of criticism is through blog platforms. This blog talks about how her six-year-old child asked about why her father doesn’t wear makeup and she had to make the choice to tell him that he doesn’t wear makeup because makeup is for girls. She stated that her son is living in a world where he has to grow up faster than she wants him to. “I need to find new makeup now. I can’t support this” was the final thing Nicole Dean said about CoverGirl (Dean, 2016). Although this is only one blog, it shows that many conservative parents do not want their children being exposed to a man wearing makeup so they will not buy CoverGirl’s products. There is a large amount of backlash on CoverGirl for using a male brand ambassador which, in the end, is only hurtful to their brand.

            Stakeholders are people that are affected by the company’s actions. In this case the people that are affected by CoverGirl’s action to use James Charles as a spokesperson for their new product are the customers and the community. The first group of people by CoverGirl’s actions are its customers both male and female. Many customers are unsure if they are going to buy their products because a man is marketing it. This will decrease the sales of CoverGirl because regular customers do not believe that the new products will work as well as other products that were sponsored by women.  The next stakeholder is society because many people have strict views on social norms. They believe that only women should wear makeup. The last stakeholder is CoverGirl’s brand itself. The risk of putting a man as the face a cosmetic brand is extremely high. Choosing a wrong spokesperson is toxic to a brand which means people will not respect CoverGirl’s choice and not purchase products from them anymore. 

Coty's headquarters in NYC
     Individualism is equal to egoism (selfishness) plus rights-based constraints. Friedman’s theory of individualism is to only be obligated to the stockholder and that the only goal of the business is to maximize profit for the owner or stockholders within the constraints of the law. Before the decision of using James Charles as the brand ambassador, Procter and Gamble sold CoverGirl to Coty. In order to increase the marketing of CoverGirl, which will help increase sales, CoverGirl decided to have someone that they can market to younger generations, how they are going to use more digital markets and use someone who has a large following on social media.CoverGirl chose James Charles because he is able to connect with others on social media and he could increase the social buzz surrounding CoverGirl, but it also allow for more people to publicly express their negative opinions.  . The Coty stock right now does not maximize the profits for the stockholders (Lachapelle, 2017). According to Procter and Gamble’s 10k annual report, their beauty brands, which includes CoverGirl before they were sold to Coty, the net sales in 2016 from their beauty brands was $11,477 while in 2015 it was $12,608 (“Annual Report”). This is a decrease in their sales which does not maximize profits for their stockholders. The decision of using James Charles as their ‘cover boy” is an unethical one because he is not going to help maximize stocks which does not benefits the stockholders of the company.

     Utilitarianism is that happiness or pleasure are the only things of intrinsic value. The business is responsible to bring happiness and pleasure to all beings capable of feeling it. A utilitarian measures the happiness of each stakeholder and looks at what can be changed. By picking James Charles as the new brand representative for CoverGirl, the company was looking to make everyone happy both men and women. There is a mix of people who are happy and unhappy with James Charles representing a cosmetics’ brand in society though. Older generations are unhappy because they are focused on the old social norms where only women can wear makeup which leads to many loyal customers not purchasing Covergirl’s products. CoverGirl does not maximize the happiness of their customers with their decision to have James Charles representing their brand. With all the negative tweets/comments on social media to the conservative blogs that do not agree with a man wearing makeup, a majority of society is unhappy with CoverGirl which leads them to boycott CoverGirl and go to another brand. The brand suffers from this decision because they are losing their loyal customers which hurts CoverGirl’s profits and their image to their consumers. When a brand starts to lose valuable customers, they lose their image as a reputable brand. Since most of the stakeholders will not maximize their happiness with the decision of using James Charles’ as a brand spokesman, CoverGirl was unethical.

James Charles' makeup looks
     The basic principles of Kantianism is to act rationally, allow and help people to make rational decisions, respect people, their autonomy, and individual needs and differences and be motivated by Goodwill which is seeking to do what is right because it is right. CoverGirl’s decision to use James Charles as their brand spokesperson was not a Kantian decision because they disrespected everyone based on how they wanted to be treated. They are not giving consumers enough information of the mascara and information of James Charles as a spokesperson to allow customers to make critical decisions on whether or not to buy from CoverGirl. CoverGirl is not going with the formula of humanity because they are not treating their consumers as equal individuals.They are only focusing on the younger generation that relies more on social media and having their own views on males wearing makeup. CoverGirl is not focusing on how older generations are more resistant to change and are not familiar with men wearing makeup.  Using James Charles to introduce the new product called So Lashy, which is a universal mascara, is not allowing the brand to respect older generations who wants to transform their lashes regardless of their gender (Kell, 2017). This is not an ethical decision according to a Kantian.

Virtue Theory
     Virtues are characteristics that allow things to function properly which depend on the things function and the thing’s circumstances. The virtues of character that CoverGirl uses are courage, justice/fairness, temperance, and honesty. In order to go along with the Virtue theory, CoverGirl’s should continue to with using James Charles as its spokesman which goes along with courage. Putting someone as the face of a brand, especially since a man has never represented CoverGirl, is a huge risk that a company takes in order to market to their young consumers, not their older customers. CoverGirl did not treat all of their customers fairly. They completely disregarded how their older, loyal customers would react to the news of a male brand ambassador. Although they tried to make a decision that treated the new generation fairly, they completely disregarded their other customers. The next virtue is temperance which means that the business had to have realistic expectations and desires. CoverGirl had expectations and desires when they chose James Charles as their brand ambassador. They believed that a fresh male face would help them increase their sales for their brand and it would help them reach a larger market for their products. These were unrealistical expectations because CoverGirl neglected a big part of their market which is the older generation of customers. The last virtue was honesty which is taking responsibility for one’s feelings and actions. CoverGirl did not address these hateful comments which they should have done from the beginning and state why they chose a male representative. CoverGirl was not honest with their motives which disrespects their customers. CoverGirl was not ethical in this theory because they are not able to justify their actions with the justice/fairness, temperance, and honesty virtues, but did display the courage virtue.

Justified Ethical Decisions
James Charles on the Ellen show
     CoverGirl’s actions were all unethical according to all four of these theories. I believe that CoverGirl was unethical in their decision to use James Charles as a brand ambassador. If they formally introduced James Charles to the world and issued a clear reason why they chose him, they could have reduced the amount of hate that CoverGirl and he received. CoverGirl only was thinking about the younger generation that is more focused on dismissing gender norms. They did not take into consideration how their loyal, loyal customers would feel about this decision. CoverGirl could have avoided any negative consequences if they took time to look at their market and evaluate all possible candidates to be their CoverGirl before they chose James Charles. If CoverGirl can easily lose customers over a brand representative, I think it is worth it to fully understand who their customers are and evaluate how much they are willing to risk due to this decision. 

Dean, N. (2016, November 27). "Mommy, why doesn't daddy wear makeup?" - Black Friday Events Lead Conservative Mother To Fear The Worst. Retrieved April 09, 2017, from

Feldman, J. (2016, October 11). Meet The First Ever Male CoverGirl, James Charles. Retrieved January 27, 2017, from

Kell, J. (2016, October 13). CoverGirl's First-Ever Male Model Is Genius Gen Z Marketing. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from

Lachapelle, T. (2017, February 28). Coty's CoverGirl Makeover Requires Patience. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from

Makeup, Men, and Stereotypes. (2016, July 22). Retrieved March 27, 2017, from

Zaimov, S. (2016, October 12). CoverGirl Picks 'CoverBoy' as Its First-Ever Male Makeup Model. Retrieved January 27, 2017, from

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