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L'Oreal, Estée Lauder Perfumes sentiments dip following child labour claims

L'Oreal, Estée Lauder Perfumes sentiments dip following child labour claims

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Beauty companies L'Oreal and Estée Lauder's brand sentiments have dipped following a BBC investigative report that linked the companies to child labour. 

According to media intelligence firm CARMA, conversations on social media about L'Oréal shifted to 40.5% positive and 9% negative. Before the BBC investigation, its brand sentiments were 56.1% positive and 2.4% negative. Despite the dip, words such as 'good', 'industry' and 'global' still dominated its word cloud. 

Don't miss: Balenciaga apologises after copping flak for sexualising children in holiday ads 

Meanwhile, Estée Lauder's brand sentiments have dipped to 26.3% positive 19.5% negative. It was previously 42.6% positive and 5% negative, added Carma. 

The brand's word cloud included words such as 'buy', 'good', 'child' and 'jasmine'. 

In the report, BBC reportedly found that the jasmine used by L'Oreal and Estée Lauder's perfume brands were picked by children. 

The investigation followed families in Egypt throughout the summer of 2023 who pick jasmine for local factories. These factories extract jasmine oil from the flowers and supply it to international fragrance houses. 

The jasmine used in L'Oreal-owned Lancôme’s Idôle Intense and Estée Lauder-owned Aerin Beauty’s Ikat Jasmine and Limone di Sicilia comes from Egypt.

According to the BBC's investigation, children aged between five and 15 work picking jasmine throughout the night and earn roughly US$1.50 for a night's work.

A 50ml bottle of Lancôme Idôle perfume costs SG$165, while Ikat Jasmine retails for SG$240 for a 50ml bottle. Limone Di Sicilia, on the other hand, costs SG$370 for a 100ml bottle. 

In Egypt, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 15 to work in Egypt between the hours of 19:00 and 07:00.  

Independent perfumer Christophe Laudamiel reportedly told the BBC that leading companies such as L'Oréal and Estée Lauder set stringent briefs and tight budgets for the fragrance houses.

Their primary goal is to source the cheapest possible oils to maximise their profit margins when selling the final product, Laudamiel reportedly said. 

Meanwhile, a senior executive with fragrance house Givaudan reportedly told BBC anonymously that the issue lies in the lack of oversight the perfume companies have of their supply chains. 

The executive reportedly said these companies rely on the fragrance houses to instruct third-party auditing companies to check for due diligence. 

Following the report, L'Oreal released a statement saying that, "L’Oréal is deeply committed to respecting and protecting Human Rights and we believe that all forms of child labour are completely unacceptable. We expect all our suppliers, including fragrance houses, to act in a responsible and ethical way."

The company said it will be taking immediate action and have worked to put concrete actions in place ahead of the next jasmine harvest in June. 

"We always act immediately if we identify any problems in our supply chain," said L'Oreal in a statement MARKETING-INTERACTIVE saw. 

"And this is exactly what we are currently doing in Egypt, where we indirectly source a small percentage of the jasmine used in some of our products.  Thanks to our on-going monitoring process, in October 2023, after the last harvest, and before the BBC reached out to us, we first identified potential human rights issues, including child labour."  

To drive systemic change, the company has set up a coalition in partnership with the Egyptian government, the fragrance houses and other industry partners, added L'Oreal.

"We are very disappointed that the BBC chose not to include our concrete actions in Egypt, which we had already started to implement before they first contacted us and which we have actively shared with them in detail," said L'Oreal. 

L'Oreal and Estée Lauder are not the only major brands to be tied to controversies including children. In 2022, luxury fashion brand Balenciaga was caught in the fire for sexualising children in its holiday campaign

The photos, which have since been deleted by the luxury fashion brand, reportedly showed children holding teddy bears that were wearing what seemed like bondage harnesses, according to multiple media outlets including BloombergABC News and The Independent UK.

The brand apologised on Instagram Stories for any offence caused by its holiday campaign. "Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in its campaign. We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms," the brand said.

It also apologised for "displaying unsettling documents" in the campaign. Balenciaga explained that it takes this matter very seriously and is taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set and including unapproved items for its Spring 2023 campaign photoshoot.

"We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children's safety and well-being," Balenciaga added at the time. 

Join us on 12 June 2024 for an exciting experience as Content360 makes its debut in Malaysia! Brace yourself to join the crème de la crème of the content marketing industry hailing from across the region. Immerse yourself in a dynamic atmosphere, and uncover the latest trends with thought leaders and solution providers from the realm of content.

Related articles: 
L'Oreal's Kérastase taps Euphoria star as newest global brand ambassador  
Estée Lauder unveils first ever partnership with Manchester United
Kering to name brand safety lead after Balenciaga controversy 

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