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How Tarte’s Hoax Marketing Campaign Backfired

April Fools Day pranks are popular in the world of social media marketing and can be a great strategy to target a younger consumer audience. The Doritos company faked a new lineup of bottled water and Google offered Google Gnome — a combination of Alexa and Chrome. Tarte, the popular beauty product company, offered a new dark color palette called Icy Betch.


About Tarte Beauty Products and Their Marketing

Tarte was founded by Maureen Kelly in 1999. Exclusively using plant based and cruelty-free materials, Tarte has developed a loyal following of consumers hoping to look fabulous while considering the environment and health. A company that started in Kelly’s apartment in 1999 has carved out a substantial niche within the $35.5 billion makeup industry.


Marketing Strategy

With a passionate and youthful consumer base, Tarte focuses their marketing strategy around the latest social media trends. This brings us to their April Fools Day gaffe. Whereas other companies made obvious social media jokes – like Doritos bottled water– Tarte revealed a new eye shadow color palette. Many fans instantly wanted in! Four hours later the company announced the color palette as a joke. To which the response from fans was confusion and disappointment, and many of their passionate followers took them to task online.


Many Fans Left Waiting

Tarte customers retaliated on social media, criticizing the company’s poor taste in humor. They started saying they wished the product announcement had been real. This only added to the fact that over the years the company had taken a lot of criticism from fans over the lack of diversity in their color palettes. When it was revealed as a hoax, Tarte was left with egg on their face. And, even worse, they left their loyal fans and consumers feeling cheated. Presently, many fans are still crossing their fingers, hoping that Tarte is indeed making an icy blue palette. In the meantime, the company is promoting its other blue makeup products, attempting to appease their fans and suggesting the new palette may be in the works after all.


What Can Be Learned

A passionate and satisfied consumer base is every business owner’s desire. It seems in the case of Tarte that they weren’t listening to what their returning customers wanted. The backlash from a bad prank has left them looking clueless at best and mean-spirited at worst. With the release of the actual product, Tarte could have turned the whole story around. Providing their enthusiastic followers with a product they were asking for would have fostered a sense of pride among loyal consumers. Engagement is a term used in excess with marketing. Tarte’s April Fools hoax may have backfired in the short-term. But, with so many loyal consumers engaged by the snafu, it’s worth wondering if it might not turn out to be a genius marketing strategy in the end.


For Your Business

Engage your followers on social media and actually listen to them. Marketing is all about reaching potential customers. And, maintaining loyalty among those you already have. Social media is a great way to see what’s trending within your niche, gain new insights about your consumer base, and actively engage in the conversation. Every once in a while, you may accidentally stir the pot. If you do, you should prepare to face the wrath of your loyal customers and respond appropriately.


Web Content Development

Would you like to know more about how a solid marketing strategy can grow your business? At Web Content Development, we specialize in online marketing and can customize a strategy that is right for you. We will focus on marketing, so you can continue running your business and creating great products and services. Contact us today!

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About the Author

Erica D’Arcangelo – De Silva

Erica D’Arcangelo – De Silva has worked in the Internet marketing industry for the last 20-years. Erica is the top-secret SEO weapon to marketing and advertising agencies in the world. She has generated over 300+ million in revenue for high-value brands such as Walmart, Pottery Barn, iRobot, Cutting Edge Firewood, Kelley Blue Book, and many more. Erica has custom-created more than 1,000 content, SEO, and marketing strategies which held the key to doubling and tripling online traffic, and marketing ROI. She has also authored a series of online publications including The Digital Branding Survival Guide, Million Dollar Marketing, 5 Steps to Increase Web Traffic by Blogging, and Repairing Your Online Reputation.