Dodgy product promotion by Kardashian-Jenner clan

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West (left) was criticised for promoting unhealthy eating habits when she posted an image of herself with an "appetite suppressant lollipop".
Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West (above) was criticised for promoting unhealthy eating habits when she posted an image of herself with an "appetite suppressant lollipop".PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • Another day, another Kardashian scandal.

Reality television star Kim Kardashian West prompted a backlash when she posted an image of herself sucking on an "appetite suppressant lollipop" to Instagram last Tuesday night.

The sponsored post referred to the lollipops as "literally unreal" and promised 15 per cent off to the first 500 people who purchased them from a company called Flat Tummy Co.

She eventually deleted the image, likely in reaction to criticism of her promoting unhealthy eating habits, but it remained on her Instagram story (which automatically disappears after 24 hours).

There was not nearly as much criticism when actress Tori Spelling also shared an image of the lollipops last Tuesday, but that could be because she has one million followers on Instagram, whereas Kardashian West has a jaw-dropping 111 million.

She and her sisters - namely Kylie Jenner, who reportedly receives US$1 million (S$1.3 million) or more for each #sponsored or #ad post - lead Instagram's army of "influencers", or beautiful people paid boatloads of money to promote products on their social media.

Sponsored Instagram advertisements are the Kardashian-Jenner clan's most prominent attempts to get you to buy things that make you want to laugh out loud and weep for humanity at the same time.

They have done this before and in other venues, sometimes with their own creations. Here are the most memorable. 1. In 2011, Kardashian West starred in a Super Bowl commercial for Sketchers Shape-Ups that equated the shoes with a personal trainer. Wear these monstrous shoes, the ad implied, and you will magically lose weight and strengthen your stomach and glute muscles.

The Federal Trade Commission cited this specific commercial as evidence that Sketchers had deceived its customers. The company paid US$40 million in 2012 to settle the charges. 2. Jenner divulged her "beauty secrets" in 2015 by sharing photos of her cleavage and rear with the hashtag #curvesonfleek. PureLeef's all-natural butt-enhancing cream and breast-plumping lotion "stimulate fat cells in the target areas", she wrote, to which a commenter responded: "It's time to stop lying."

3. A Kardashian scandal from 2010 involved the three oldest daughters' endorsement of diet regimen QuickTrim.

The sisters were sued for US$5 million in 2012 by four people who used QuickTrim and claimed the marketing was "false, misleading and unsubstantiated", according to Reuters.

There is no scientific evidence to prove that QuickTrim works and a 2011 study found that the colon cleanses can cause everything from cramping to kidney failure. 4. Pregnant people, please be wary of Diclegis, morning sickness pills the Food and Drug Administration eventually deemed "safe and effective", but not before it chastised Kardashian West for leaving out "risk information or important limitations of use" in her 2015 Instagram post. 5. The Kardashian Kard might be the family's most egregious business venture of all.

The oldest three sisters nixed their pre-paid debit card just a month after its 2010 debut when Mr Richard Blumenthal, then Connecticut's attorney general, questioned the legality of its "pernicious and predatory fees", according to CNN.

Unlike regular debit cards, which are usually free, the year-long Kardashian Kard cost US$99.95 to own - plus a US$9.95 purchase fee and US$7.95 monthly fees. It also cost cardholders US$1 to add any amount of money to their card, and US$2 to pay bills automatically.

The Kardashians are "fun-loving individuals", a phrase their attorney considered worthy of including in a termination notice sent to banks after the Kard debacle.

But they cannot seem to get product promotion right even when said product is totally fine.

Just look to Kendall Jenner's Pepsi commercial for proof.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2018, with the headline 'Dodgy product promotion by Kardashian-Jenner clan'. Print Edition | Subscribe