Fur Real: 5 Questions with Brandi Halls, LUSH Cosmetics, on #MakeFurHistory

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Cruelty-free cosmetics brand LUSH is reaching beyond the make-up counter to its very brand ethos with its latest anti-cruelty campaign, which targets the harsh realities of the fur industry. 

Nearly 500 international fashion designers—including Mulberry, Gucci and Fendi—showcase fur in their collections, and many use fur from the 100 million animals who are mistreated and then killed for their pelts annually, worldwide.

Mimi Bekhechi, PETA UK’s associate director, said of the fur industry, “With all the chic, cruelty-free options available on every high street, including ones which are warmer to boot, it is not only cruel but also utterly pointless to steal animals’ skins. Those who cater to every fashion whim with no sense of ethics are a dying breed.”

To bring awareness to the consumers that are most unaware of these facts, LUSH’s campaign is cleverly centered around an online shopping hack.[more]

The cosmetics company has launched a fake website called FurDiscounts.com, which appears as a high-end fur e-commerce platform a la SSENSE or Net-a-porter. The creatively compelling lure draws in customers, but when they click to view an item, the site redirects to MakeFurHistory.com, where the cruelty in the fur industry is shown full-on.

In addition to the #MakeFurHistory video, the websites and their corresponding advertisements, LUSH has partnered with the Association For The Protection Of Fur-Bearing Animals (APFA) and the Montreal SPCA in asking fans and followers to make—and share on social media—the following pledge: “I pledge to go fur-free and #MakeFurHistory.”

Consumers are also encouraged to surrender fur items at all LUSH stores throughout North America in exchange for a vegan product of their choice. The donated items will then be donated to wildlife rehabilitation centers as bedding for orphaned or injured animals.

Top anti-fur brands include UK brands Topshop, Selfridges, House of Fraser, Harvey Nichols and All Saints (which all have strict no-fur policies) and designers Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Vivienne Westwood. And LUSH, of course—whose campaign #makefurhistory runs through November 9th.

brandchannel talked to Brandi Halls, North American Director of Brand Communications for LUSH, about the campaign and how it reinforces LUSH’s brand strategy.  

brandchannel: What is the most effective way to reach those not already in the anti-animal cruelty camp?

Halls: For us, one of the main objectives of this campaign was to reach those outside of the anti-animal cruelty camp. Specifically, we set out to change consumer behavior and incite citizens to take a stand against fur. In order for us to effectively do this, we knew that we had to reach fur buyers and educate them on the inherent cruelty associated with their purchasing decision.

bc: Has social media helped amplify the cause? 

Halls: Traditionally we would rely on media coverage to spread the word of our campaign and what we are up to. In this particular case, however, we have relied heavily on social media to gain traction and evoke action, and we’ve seen great success. We are seeing video shares, online pledges, celebrity retweets and healthy engagement around Furdiscounts.com, not to mention some online media coverage as well.

bc: How is the campaign doing so far and what are your metrics for success?

Halls: Being a bit of a hippy brand at heart, we tend to measure our campaigns around sentiment, feedback from our partners and engagement of our staff. Of course social media numbers, foot traffic and sales are metrics that we could look to—but for us, success comes in many different forms.

bc: Such as…?

Halls: It comes in seeing young faces engaging socially using #makefurhistory, in a staff who are inspired to come to work, and in that one fur buyer who changed their mind after seeing the deplorable conditions inside these fur farms. 

bc:  Is this campaign a bit of a reach, or a natural extension for a cosmetics company?

Halls: Campaigning is just what we do at LUSH. It’s as much a part of who we are as selling cruelty-free products to our loyal customers.  As a business with over 200 stores in North America, 5,000 retail staff and an ever-growing social media fan base, it is our obligation to do more than sell products—and we are happy to do so.

• Follow us: @brandchannel on Twitter and brandchannel on Facebook. Connect with Sheila on Twitter: @srshayon

[Image via Lush]

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