In 2013, the Toronto-based, self-proclaimed “abnormal beauty company” took the beauty industry by surprise. Deciem’s line of skin care products were both innovative and effective and attracted a cult-like following with fans including Kim Kardashian West. In 2016, Deciem launched the wildly popular, inexpensive line, the Ordinary, and became a household name. After sales went through the roof, Estee Lauder Companies had announced it had taken a minority stake in the little beauty company with plans to expand to stores internationally.
Within the first months of 2018, pressure grew on Brandon Truaxe, Deciem’s founder and CEO, to become the best of the best. The founder’s paranoia and lack of trust forced him to let go most of his Public Relations and social media advisors in a messy display of online blog posts steering Deciem into stormy weather ahead. Brandon rolled up his sleeves and grabbed full reins of his company. Brandon stripped himself of his rank and gave himself the title of “Worker” to prove his devotion to his ever growing business.
The young CEO quickly became the soul face of his company and treated it as if it were a one-man show. Without the help of his advisors, Brandon took it upon himself to call out in an article fellow popular skincare brand Drunk Elephant, which involved an advertisement with the tagline, “One would have to be drunk to overpay for Marula”. Brands like Drunk Elephant charge over $70 for a 30ml bottle of Marula oil while Deciem’s brand, the Ordinary, charges just $10 for a bottle of the same size. Brandon directly addressed his behaviour by posting multiple videos to Instagram of what sounded like half-apologetic rants. Soon after, Brandon started making public claims against competitors who were not animal friendly and went as far as posting dead sheep on Deciem’s Instagram feed to announce that the company would never test on animals.
Loyal fans felt that Brandon taking his personal voice to Deciem’s Instagram account was a step too far. These unsolicited public displays resulted in the mass social media unfollowing and an even bigger loss in sales.
Estée Lauder and other Deciem backers were not prepared to lose their investments and have now bought out the company and restored it to its former glory. Deciem’s social platforms such as Instagram have slowly recovered.
Brand personality is important and PR helps companies make the most of their online presence by providing organizations with the support and guidance it needs to build an authentic connection with their followers. Despite the Company’s recent shortcomings, Deciem was able to rebuild by using its social media platforms to provide information while being open, transparent and staying true to their company image. In a world where everyone is digitally connected, the importance of PR remains stronger than ever to help companies like Deciem cultivate an intimacy and connection between their company and its audience.