James Charles – The Biggest Scandal Among Beauty Influencers

James Charles is one of the most famous beauty influencers. Last year he made a full comeback from his “Dramageddon 2.0” feud with Tati Westbrook in 2019. He got a massive audience, many brand deals and a YouTube reality show, but everything has changed dramatically past two months.

Following many news that 21-year-old James Charles had been sexting with 16-17 years old teenagers, he has been demonetized by YouTube, lost his collaboration deal with Morphe, will not appear on the next season of “Instant Influencer” and was absent from YouTube’s recent major beauty festival. He was also cut from Bella Poarch’s recent music video release.

Before the scandal, Charles had been one of the most successful beauty influencers on social media. Based on data from beauty shopping platform Cosmetify, Charles earned an estimated average of $25,520 per YouTube video in 2020, it made him the highest-earning beauty influencer on the platform per post. He also saw a rapid monthly growth: data from software company Reincubate found that he earned 900,000 new YouTube subscribers and 152 million video views in ONE month! Moreover, it estimated that he made $2.5 million off YouTube in 2020. Charles was also a top beauty influencer on TikTok, earning an estimated $35,502 per post.

After Morphe cut ties with him, the number of influencers posting about his Morphe palette declined to 154 in April, down from 268 in March. The brand also found that due to the severed relationship with Morphe, this scandal is hitting much harder than the original “Dramageddon 2.0.”

“I think once James was dropped by CoverGirl, that would have rung massive alarm bells in my mind,” said Keane-Dawson. “It was just forgotten about. It was just swept underneath the carpet.”

This is the latest influencer scandal to show how costly it can be for a brand, following the multiple beauty YouTube dramas over the years, including the Jeffree Star scandal of 2020 that caused Morphe to make a similar move and cut ties.

For brands approaching an influencer marketing strategy amidst the risk of scandals, vetting is key.  But “inevitably, we are dealing with humans and things go wrong. They’re unpredictable, so there’s no 100% guarantee” that a brand can avoid an influencer scandal even with proper vetting, said Keane-Dawson.

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