Did Ola Alfares destroy her own brand ambassador career?

What happens when brand ambassadors show their racism after they have been tied to your brand?

Ola Al Fares, the Jordanian journalist who started her career at the age of 19 and works at MBC, recently gained some unwanted attention when she Snapchatted a couple of racially charged images of foreign workers. Did this unwanted attention boost or destroy her career as brand ambassador to L’Oreal?

On March 29th, @Missmarized mentioned both Ola and L’Oreal Group in a tweet after being annoyed with Ola’s post; the tweet as shown below, targeted the brand’s image that’s all about Women Rights.

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Ola, who is a high-earning celebrity in the Arab world, posted a Snapchat photo of six Asian maids lined up in a room, along with the caption: “Sooo… I’m lost.” The second photo was of a seventh Asian maid standing alone in the same room. This time, the caption was both insensitive and rude. “What do you guys think? I’m so incapable of making decisions today… forget about her ‘elegant outfit,’ I’ll fix that later,” Ola wrote, accompanied by a sarcastic emoji at the end of the sentence.

Ola tried to defend her image and apologize for “unintentionally” offending women.

L’Oreal’s print media presence has been lagging behind recently, and this type of social media focus is not helping either. Or is it? Of course, despite “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” being one of the biggest myths in PR, there have been incidents when infamy did yield positive results.  Let’s explore how L’Oreal could have benefited from this:

  1. L’Oreal’s mention have increased on social media after the incident to almost reach 4M people. They had a total of 993 posts related to the incident.
  2. The brand’s awareness as a Women Rights’ brand that helps empowering and supporting women just spread more, maybe even more than when the campaign was announced. L’Oreal’s Women Rights’ campaign has not gained much traction and many people are now aware of it, because of this.

But now let’s explore the potential negative impact:

  1. Both L’Oreal’s and Ola’s image may have been tarnished. L’Oreal will need to spend time dealing with this PR crisis instead of focusing on improving their campaigns’ reach.
  2. Despite the fact that both Ola and L’oreal’s reach have increased by almost 90% in the past month, as a direct result of this incident, most of the mentions were negative. Mentions were: 90K for Ola and 2M for L’Oreal.

Ola’s reach hit 150K in a period of two days after having close to none on some days. Despite the fact that the incident started on Snapchat, it didn’t remain there, as many reactions were spread across different sources as well, as the graph below shows. This is key to note, as many brands seem to think that being on one platform means that is where they remain. It’s never up to the brand.

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L’Oreal has yet to respond, and only time will tell if this plays into their advantage or not. As for Ola, one can only hope that she’s learned to not dehumanize others.

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