Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council Recommends Mary Kay Modify and Discontinue Certain Social Media and Website Marketing Earnings Claims
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McLean, VA – July 22, 2021 – The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC) of BBB National Programs recommended that Mary Kay Inc. modify or discontinue certain express and implied earnings, incentive, and lifestyle claims from social media and corporate marketing materials, including the Mary Kay website. These claims were made by Mary Kay, a company that sells skincare and cosmetic products through a variety of channels including direct sales, as well as by Mary Kay independent consultants.
This inquiry, which included approximately 200 examples, was brought to DSSRC by a non-profit, non-governmental advocacy group (NGO). The NGO contended that Mary Kay’s marketing materials include claims of participants achieving financial freedom, earning replacement income, buying their dream homes, quitting their jobs, making six figures per year, retiring their spouses, and earning the iconic Mary Kay pink Cadillac, among other things.
The claims that were the subject of the inquiry that were found on corporate websites, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram included, but are not limited to:
- “How much money can I expect to earn as an Independent Business Consultant? Many Independent Beauty Consultants operate their business on a part-time basis with the goal of meeting short-term financial goals – such as purchasing holiday gifts for their families or paying for a family vacation, school clothes or tuition for their children. Meanwhile, others decide to build their Mary Kay business to the point at which it becomes possible for them to quit their jobs and pursue their Mary Kay business full time.”
- “Kimberly Galindo, Fresno, CA: ‘To pick just one photo & caption for this entry from the last 16 years has been quite the challenge! Do I pick taking my children to see their momma’s face in Times Square? Or spoiling my hubby with a cruise to the Bahamas? A pink Cadillac Pickup Party? While all of those moments have been monumental – there was nothing quite like FINALLY purchasing our BRAND-NEW home. I will always remember the JOY & gratitude I felt that day.’”
- “Michelle Willis, Sandy, UT: ‘My Mary Kay moment was when my husband opened up his Christmas present in 2018 to find this picture frame. This is my granddaughter holding the title to his truck that I secretly paid off with my Mary Kay business. When the picture fell away there was the title to his dream truck. His free and clear. I also placed a copy of the truck key in a Mary Kay “you hold the key bag” and included that with the title.’”
- “Victoria Jackson, Jackson, TN: ‘My Mary Kay moment was summer of 2019! With the profits I had earned from my Mary Kay business, I was able to take two boys and parents on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Their first Caribbean cruise! As a single mom working an entry level job, I never imagined being able to do anything like this for my boys. Watching their eyes light up at ship, enjoying all the desserts they could eat, and seeing new places around the world meant all the world to me. All because one woman believed I could do it!’”
- “There’s nothing quite like driving a Pink Cadillac! 💗 – Learn more about the Mary Kay opportunity and the amazing things you can accomplish at our bio link”
- “What could an extra $200 a month do for you fam? An extra $500? An extra $1000? Bonus points if anyone can guess my highest monthly paycheck for team building!” (Accompanied by an image of a blank Mary Kay check)
- “Freedom, flexibility and financial stability! What more can a girl ask for! Building a Million dollar team of women/men…”
- “You found a way made a way to change your life drastically during a Pandemic & you did just that!... she was let go at the beginning of the Pandemic so now her and Tyler don’t have to worry [;]…she can love and cuddle that baby so much and not worry about finances since she will have built a successful business & have residual income…”
Mary Kay participated in the DSSRC process in good faith, responsive to the requests of DSSRC. Of the 200 claims that were originally identified by the NGO, Mary Kay either removed or restricted public access to 189 of the posts.
Still of concern to DSSRC are posts and marketing content that are still available to the public, and those that were not removed but instead were restricted or password protected. Of posts still available to the public, DSSRC recommended that Mary Kay take whatever actions were necessary to have those posts disabled.
Of the social media posts that were designated as private or password protected, DSSRC recommended that they be completely removed from the platforms on which they were found (Facebook and YouTube) as even though they now have restricted access, they are still accessible to small groups.
Multiple challenged posts, on both social media and blogs, related to Mary Kay’s iconic Pink Cadillac program. Mary Kay salesforce members earn the use of a Pink Cadillac by meeting and exceeding goals set within their Mary Kay businesses. In these instances, DSSRC was concerned that a reasonable takeaway for a consumer would be that the typical Mary Kay salesforce member attains eligibility to participate in the program.
As per DSSRC’s recommendation, Mary Kay stated that they are committed to exploring the development of disclosure language to include on corporate pages and/or for salesforce members to use in social media posts referencing Mary Kay’s Pink Cadillac program. DSSRC recommended that Mary Kay disable all posts referencing the Pink Cadillac program until the disclosure language is developed and in place.
On the Mary Kay website, on both the blog and corporate FAQ page, DSSRC expressed concerns with several statements regarding potential salesforce income.
For example, the FAQ section of the “Sell Mary Kay” tab of the Company website, states: “How much money can I expect to earn as an Independent Business Consultant? - The earning opportunity associated with a Mary Kay business is open-ended.” It is further stated that “…the amount of money you can make as a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant will depend on many factors, including your personal business goals and the amount of time and effort you choose to invest in your business.” It is a long-standing principle of advertising that an advertiser has the burden to support any reasonable interpretation of its claims and DSSRC determined that the reference to “open-ended income” that is predicated on the effort of the salesforce member reasonably communicates the message that the earnings potential for Mary Kay salesforce members is unlimited if the salesforce members is prepared to dedicate the necessary time and effort and that this message is inconsistent with the results achieved by the typical Mary Kay salesforce member.
DSSRC recommended that Mary Kay immediately remove these and any other implied or express references to unlimited income, full-time income, and financial and time freedom from Mary Kay’s webpages.
DSSRC appreciates Mary Kay for its responsiveness and ongoing efforts to remove the rest of the claims from this case from circulation.
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council: The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC), a division of BBB National Programs, provides independent, impartial monitoring, dispute resolution, and enforcement of false product claims and income representations made by direct selling companies and their salesforce members across digital platforms. The DSSRC seeks to establish high standards of integrity and business ethics for all direct selling companies in the marketplace.
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