Will Tarte's "tone-deaf" Dubai trip change the game for TikTok influencers?
Dubai, United Arab Emirates - TikTok influencers undoubtedly live quite the lavish life, but things have just reached a new level thanks to a Tarte-sponsored trip to Dubai that's gone viral on the platform – and may have backfired.
It's the age of the influencer, and never has that been more obvious than this past week on TikTok.
The creators then shared content on both TikTok and Instagram with glamorous photos of their vacations, outfits, and makeup looks.
The trip looked so over-the-top that it sparked conversation among TikTok users about the trip's hefty price tag, as many grappled with the rather insane compensation awarded to influencers these days for created content.
In a world where a 30-second video can earn influencers what amounts to a yearly salary for many, it's hard not to grow frustrated with this kind of blatant advertising.
The trip clearly caught the attention it sought, racking up almost 140 million TikTok views of its respective hashtag "trippinwithtarte." Nevertheless, many branded the event "tone-deaf" amid the financial uncertainty sweeping the US and also criticized the lack of diversity among the influencers chosen.
Most notably, for all its splendor and traction, the Dubai trip just may have sabotaged the most desirable commodity for an influencer: relatability.
Will Tarte's Dubai trip change the public perception of influencers?
While brand-sponsored trips are far from a new concept, the response to the Dubai trip in particular may signal a tide shift in the general response to influencers.
The jarring expense of the grandiose trip has hammered home the immense gap between the influencer and the viewer, showing that the relatability and trust many fans perceive of influencers is largely contrived once they reach a certain level of success.
The carefully-curated Dubai trip content heavily promotes Tarte and showcases a profoundly unattainable lifestyle that is solely intended to bolster the brand and the influencer's image. Yet while the vacation got everyone talking about Tarte, it may have damaging consequences for the individual influencers invited.
The lifecycle of the influencer has become clear as the eras of social media come and go. The down-to-earth personas of social media creators, especially early in their careers, make them more "likable" to fans than traditional A-list celebrity spokespeople for brands – especially companies who want face time with younger consumers. Hence why influencer marketing has exploded, and why rising influencers are at the top of that food chain.
Quite simply: Viewers would much rather take the word of someone who appears to be just like them rather than Hollywood's finest or the world's richest, but when the distinctions between these two groups become blurred, the influencer's edge is lost.
The death knell rings once the creators have left the realm of reliability, and every influencer on the Dubai trip has long passed that threshold.
Cover photo: Collage: Screenshot/TikTok/@alixearle