The beauty brand Sunday Riley was outed for telling employees to post positive reviews on Sephora’s website, posing as happy customers. Both The Fashion Law and Dazed are reporting that an email was leaked to Reddit on Tuesday, in which the company not only encouraged employees to write a minimum of three fake reviews for its Saturn and Space Race acne treatments, but also coached them on how to disguise the fact that they weren’t real reviewers.
Employees were told to create new email accounts, and to hide their IP addresses. They were also told that before commenting on Sunday Riley products they should create reviews for a few other brands in order to appear more authentic, and thus, credible. They were additionally asked to screenshot their reviews and send them to an employee by the name of “Holleen.” As for the reviews themselves, the instructions were to “seem relatable.”
“[Say] you know how hard acne is and you’ve tried everything, and this one actually works or mention things like yes, it’s a little more expensive, but it works incredible [sic] well compared to the cheaper masks out there,” reads the leaked email. “As reviews come in, read them too. If you notice someone saying things like I didn’t like “x” about it, write a review that says the opposite. The power of reviews is mighty, people look to what others are saying to persuade them and answer potential questions they have.”
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Surprisingly, Sunday Riley has owned up to its behavior in the wake of getting caught. The company commented on a post on the anonymous beauty Instagram account Estee Laundry saying that the email was sent by a former employee, and that part of their reasoning for doing so was that competitors usually left false negative reviews on products. “It doesn’t really matter what the reasoning was,” the comment concluded. “We have hundreds of thousands of reviews across platforms around the globe and it would be physically impossible for us to have posted even a fraction of these reviews. Client word-of-mouth, sharing how our products have changed their skin, has been the cornerstone of our success. In the end, our products and their results stand for themselves.”
Funnily enough, Sunday Riley’s most recent Instagram post (from last week) features a Sephora bag in it.