I’ve been debating all day whether to write this blog post, but as time has went on, my blood has continued to boil.
I’ve been tracking the discussion around bPerfect on Twitter last night and throughout today after witnessing the launch event through social media last night.
Part of the reason that I’ve been debating writing this post is because 1) I greatly admire Brendan and the brand that he has created and all the success that he’s had and 2) because I have two friends that work for the brand.
But, those points aside, I can’t ignore that if this was any other brand and the same thing had happened, I couldn’t ignore it.
If you don’t know, last night bPerfect opened their new store in Castle Court Shopping Centre in Belfast. This opening coincided with their new celebrity partnership with Jacqueline Jossa.
Beauty influencers from the UK and Ireland were flown in and were transported in an open-top bus through the city, to the store. Upon arriving at the store, the bus was met with thousands of people lining the streets, queueing to get a glimpse of the new store and the influencers who were in attendance.
Thousands of people (mostly young people by what can be seen on social media) all in an orderly queue, not socially distanced and only a minor few wearing masks. A lack of crowd control can be seen in the shopping centre with a lack of people wearing masks.
Following the store opening, an influencer event was held in a nearby bar where even more influencers were invited to join the party and celebrate the launch.
Where do I begin?
Firstly with the number of people on the streets in Belfast queueing to get into the store. Was that necessary? Absolutely not. Was anyone wearing a mask? A very small number. Were they socially distanced in the queues? As it would appear on social media, no they were not.
Why were the young people not wearing masks? I’ve only been in Northern Ireland 14 days (all of which has been in quarantine) but I have heard from family and friends that there is a reluctance to wear masks.
I understand that bPerfect can’t police those out on the street, but it’s clear to see on social channels that no one was made to wear masks inside the new store, influencers and staff included. For this, bPerfect need to take some responsibility.
Now onto the influencers in attendance. Some were flown over from the UK (and I’m not 100% on which areas as I don’t follow any of them), but some may have been from the largely affected areas like Liverpool, Manchester or the North East and here they are coming into Belfast and mingling with everyone sans masks.
Then you also have influencers who have travelled from the south of Ireland. A few travelled from Dublin which is currently on Level 3 alert for the virus so shouldn’t have been traveling anywhere.
Not to mention, one of the Dublin influencers had recently returned from a holiday in Greece with no quarantining, but welcome to Belfast.
We all love a PR social event and launch party, but when you have families restricting the size of funeral functions and wedding parties being limited to less than 30 people – how is this fair?
IS ALL PUBLICITY GOOD PUBLICITY?
In this instance, I would think not. From everything I’ve read on Twitter, it seems that no one is impressed with what happened on the streets of Belfast last night and no one will be rushing to buy the latest offerings from the brand.
I honestly don’t know what the team were thinking or if they didn’t expect any backlash, but they’ve got everyone talking yet it seems for all the wrong reasons.
For me, it seems like a slap in the face to those that are shielding, vulnerable and doing all they can to follow guidelines, abide by new legislations and to keep the virus at bay.
It’s completely inconsiderate to those that work in the health sector and shows that the brand really doesn’t care about those that could be negatively impacted by their actions.
As much as there are people complaining on Twitter, it seems that none of the news outlets or politicians want to comment on what happened in Belfast last night. The Belfast Telegraph are the only ones to comment on it so far, which you can read here.
It didn’t take long before there was an uproar about a local GAA match, or the house parties taking place in the Holylands of Belfast – but what about this?
Isn’t this an organised gathering? And of a very significant size? How did the brand think that this would be ok?
For every other brand out there, they have had to conduct virtual launches and online launch parties due to the restrictions. We know it’s not ideal, but if it saves the lives of a number of people, it’s worth it.
It’s just a shame that such a great brand like bPerfect didn’t think this through.