Things are heating up between Chinese beauty blogger Hao Yu and Estée Lauder. On September 26, Doctor Big Mouth (大嘴博士), aka Hao Yu, publicly took Estée Lauder’s La Mer brand to task, “Yin-yang website, fake ads, LA MER, how long are you going to lie to Chinese consumers?” on Chinese social media platform Weibo.
According to Jing Daily, with over one million Weibo followers, the post with the hashtag “#lamer deceives Chinese consumers# (#lamer欺骗中国消费者#)” immediately went viral, with 31,681 comments and 98,461 shares, climbing to the top of Weibo’s trending list only to disappear quickly.
Doctor Big Mouth shared via the Weibo post that he spent 1,450 yuan (US$211) on a jar of the cream because he believed product claims of skin restoration, but his skin did not see any improvement after using it.
This controversy is a bit deeper then a beauty blogger unhappy with the results of a moisturizer. Hao’s tirade is about claims—those made in China compared to the rest of the world.
According to the messaging on La Mer’s official English-language website, the brand was founded by a Dr. Max Huber who “suffered burns in an experiment gone awry.” He created Crème de la Mer Miracle Broth, an elixir containing fermented kelp that “soothed his skin” and is present in all La Mer’s products today.
Hao compared this language to that on the brand’s official Chinese website, where it states that Miracle Broth restored the founder’s physical appearance. Hao also compared La Mer websites in other languages where he found the claims all in line with the English-version website.
Hao accused the company of deceiving Chinese consumers about Crème de la Mer. “No matter how much money Chinese consumers have, big global brands will not treat Chinese consumers as VIPs. In their eyes, we are still gullible sheep waiting to be killed,” he wrote in another blog post.
According to SCMP the blogger again took to Weibo saying he filed a civil lawsuit in Shanghai on September 27 accusing Estée Lauder of misleading and deceiving Chinese consumers by claiming that its Crème de la Mer can heal burn scars.
In fiscal 2018 La Mer became a billion-dollar brand, with strong sales in China and Hong Kong fueling the brand’s recent growth. La Mer also took to Weibo posting a public statement while not specifically addressing the issue: “Clinical testing demonstrates Crème de La Mer’s anti-aging benefits diminish the look of lines and wrinkles and strengthen skin with intense, healing hydration and soothing Miracle Broth that supports its natural repair.”
Photo credit: La Mer