Benefit in Hot Water Over UK ‘Skip Class’ Messaging


Benefit Cosmetics UK poster skip class not concealer

Benefit Cosmetics is reaping no benefits from its latest campaign in the UK, which some see as undermining the importance of education for girls.

Angry customers claimed the display at Debenhams store beauty counters was “poisoning young minds” and spreading an “irresponsible message.” The poster in question depicts a young woman in bed holding an alarm clock, books piled up and the copy: “Skip class, not concealer.”

The message: Beauty is more important than education; and it’s OK to skip school, especially if your looks aren’t up to snuff.

Data scientist Hayley Fenton said of the campaign, “I was just appalled by it to be honest. You know when you look twice at something because you can’t believe it? I wasn’t expecting to see something like that. It sends a negative message about looks being so important, even more than turning for school.”

Josh Key, from Perth, Scotland, added, “I feel that we consistently tell boys and young men about the importance of being strong or intelligent, or creative, well-educated and highly qualified, and on the other side we tell girls that they just need to be pretty.

“The fact that global brands and national retailers saw fight to exploit this message and the vulnerability of young girls for profit seems at best cynical and at worst actively suppressing the efforts and ambitions of half of the population.”

Benefit logoThis latest campaign is not the first faux pas for the brand. Benefit’s UK Twitter account went rogue in 2015 and tweeted “joke” movie titles and a fat-shaming hashtag which caused an uproar in the Twitterverse.

Then this past February, The Makeup Addiction community on Reddit pushed back at an ad for Benefit that compared a no-makeup look with a winged liner, suggesting the former eye is “yuck,” while adding eyeliner makes it “wow!”

One user wrote, “It’s not even a fully completed eye look? She just has liner on…not even mascara? Who knew black eye ink was the secret to unattainable beauty!? I can’t believe Benefit cracked the code.”

HerCampus concluded, “To wear makeup or not is an individual choice and a pure question of self-confidence, not an invitation to be judged. Do better.”

Benefit did apologize on Twitter:

But for some, it was just a gesture to (you might say) save face, and undercut its cause marketing efforts such as the Bold is Beautiful #RaiseABrow pop-up charity shops.