The Not So ‘Perfect’ Launch

Some background information

BPerfect Cosmetics was created by Brendan McDowell in 2013 and was situated in Belfast. In 2017, Brendan appeared on Ireland’s Dragons’ Den in March 2017 where his brand received praise from all 5 Dragons. Not only did Brendan receive praise from all 5, but he also received and secured an offer from two of them for his products that would “change beauty routines forever.” Brendan has now also been nominated as Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the year, this is an excellent achievement for Brendan as he has only been in business for seven years. The BPerfect Cosmetics range consists of not only makeup, but tanning must haves. BPerfect Cosmetics is now stocked in over 2000 stockists throughout Northern Ireland, Ireland, the UK and worldwide. BPerfect has been described as “Trend Setting, Award Winning, Ahead of the Game. Changing the Cosmetics industry since 2013.” However, has Brendan through all 7 years of his extremely hard work down the drain for the sake of one event?

The Launch

On the 1st October 2020, BPerfect Cosmetics megastore opened in CastleCourt shopping centre in Belfast. However, come the 2nd October 2020, the brand was being slated to the ground with abuse over multiple social media platforms by a large number of people due to images posted over social media and not taking corona virus health restrictions into place. Not only did BPerfect receive an endless line of abuse via social media, but so did the social influencers who attended and promoted the event. An example of this would include Ellie Kelly. Ellie Kelly was only back from a holiday in Greece and should have been in quarantine, but instead she was flooding her social media accounts with snapchats and Instagram stories of her at the opening of the megastore. Louise Clarke from iRadio even tweeted, “What’s with certain influencers thinking their above Covid guidelines.” This one tweet alone received over 200 likes and retweets. In the picture posted below, you can see that bPerfect have tagged all influencers involved in their launch.

BPerfect documented the full opening of their mega store in CastleCourt through their Snapchat & Instagram social media accounts (where they have over 600,000 followers.) Was this really a good idea? As they were posting consistently throughout the day on their accounts, this allowed hundreds of thousands of people to see that there was minimal effort of social distancing taking place as there were thousands of people standing squished together in a line waiting to get into the store. BPerfect posted a picture of their queue for the store on their Instagram story and captioned it the “Walk of FAMEE” – however, is it really the walk of fame? Or is it more a walk of shame?

As the event progressed throughout the day, so did the social media posts, not only on BPerfects pages, but also on the influencers. Some of the influencers who attended the event were the likes of Emma Kearny, Olivia McVeigh, Louise McDonnell, Ellie Kelly and even a guest appearance from Dan Osbourne! These influencers are not all only from different households and parts of Ireland, but were also publicising the fact that they were mixing with thousands of different people which also then caused repercussions for themselves. For example, after the event, Emma Kearny announced on her social media accounts she was deeply sorry for not taking the current pandemic restrictions into consideration and that she will be isolating for 2 weeks now and her salon will be closed. Also, responding to the backlash, Ellie said on her Instagram story: “I sincerely want to apologise if I have hurt anyone’s feelings or annoyed anyone. I completely understand, I’m not even going to defend anything.”

What’s a launch day without an after party? As if the social media posts of the store opening didn’t bring enough bad publicity to BPerfect, this was then topped off by more posts of a large number of people all on a party bus together where they were not wearing masks or staying 2M apart. As if this wasn’t bad enough, when quite a large quantity of alcohol was consumed there was then more snapchats and Instagram stories of those at the event necking drinks together, kissing each other for selfies and no social distancing happening in the club whatsoever.

Before the day of the launch had even ended, hundreds and hundreds of tweets were posted throughout the day in relation to the scandal. I therefore certainly was not alone in thinking this launch was a disgrace in how it was carried out, publicised and showed off to the world. Susan Keogh tweeted “Unless there’s a cure for Covid in your BPerfect carnival palette there is just no excuse for that event last night. 424 confirmed cases in Northern Ireland on Wednesday. The company who organised it & all those who attended clearly couldn’t give a toss.” 934 cases where then confirmed just a number of days after the event (highest number in a day to date) is this a coincidence? I think not!

The Backlash

It didn’t take long before there was an uproar about the house parties taking place in the Holylands in Belfast, or the amount of those gathered at a local GAA match, so what about BPerfect? For up to 48 hours after, the Belfast telegraph was the only news outlet to comment on this shocking behaviour. For every other brand out there, they’ve had to conduct online, virtual launches so why should BPerfect be exempt from this? Where they selling the cure for Corona Virus? I most certainly think not. Brendan tried to make amends by saying on social media “We never ever in a million years could have predicted so many people to turn up. To anybody that we have annoyed or upset with the crowds and with the many people that couldn’t get into the store. I’m truly truly sorry from the bottom of my heart.” Even though he has said he’s sorry, this one event could cost BPerfect hundreds, if not thousands of customers shopping elsewhere. Was the launch worth it?

Robbie Wallace is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University.