Thursday, June 7, 2012

Urban Decay in China: Marley Does NOT Approve

        **EDIT:  After the debacle in China ans subsequent retraction, Urban Decay is being sold to L'oreal, a brand that no one believes is cruelty free.  As of November 2012, Urban Decay will be a subsidiary of L'oreal.  Officially and forever black listed.**

        Another one bites the dust!  One of the last largest, mainstream cruelty free companies, Urban Decay, has decided to direct sell to China.  This means their products do not meet my standards as cruelty free nor Leaping Bunny’s standards.  Urban Decay obviously expected a harsh and massive response to this move and has posted their response here.  I have edited down the response below to highlight what I see as important.

“Urban Decay is going to sell our products in China. Because of China’s policies on animal testing, we know that this will not be a popular decision with some of our loyal customers. But the decision is a thoughtful one.
For those of you unfamiliar with China’s policies, the sticking point is this: the Chinese government reserves the right to conduct animal testing with cosmetic products before the products are approved for use by Chinese citizens. The government has not told us if they have exercised this right with our products. So, our brand does not test on animals, but the Chinese government might conduct a one-time test using our products. Do we like China’s policies? No…
 we believe that change cannot and will not happen by outside pressure alone in a closed market. Change can only happen from within. When we enter the Chinese market, we will do our part to help make those changes.
When we were considering expanding into China, a group of marketing consultants told us to remove the section of our company history that describes our crusade against animal testing. “It doesn’t mean anything to the Chinese beauty customer,” they said. Of course, …The battleground for animal rights is now in China, and we want to be there to encourage dialogue and provoke change.
Based on this, our belief is that both an outside force and inside pressure for change can result in helping transform both the importance of women and animal testing policies in China. And more importantly, we hope to influence the perspective of the citizens on both of these issues.
Yes, we are a for-profit company. And yes, we would eventually like to make money in China. But we don’t stand to turn a profit in China for quite a while, partially because the market isn’t quite ready to sustain an untraditional brand like ours. If it were only about the money, we would wait a few years. But our foray into this market is also about participating in an amazing time of change in China. We don’t like animal testing (and neither do the 13 dogs in our office), but we are trying to change the world… even if it is one eye shadow at a time! Sitting on the sidelines isn’t our style. We understand that you might not like our decision, but we hope you can respect it.”

Urban Decay is loosing their Leaping Bunny and Peta symbols.  They created the vegan symbol.

            First let me critique Urban Decay’s reasoning that because they are not commissioning the animal testing, they are blameless.  This is completely faulty logic.  If Urban Decay is so committed to animal welfare (they have built a whole brand around the phrase “we don’t animal test, how could anyone?) why are they even opening themselves up to the possibility of animal testing of their products?  Because they chose to direct sell to China, I see this as choosing to animal test because they know this is a likely outcome of their business relationship with China. 

They could easily choose to sell only in countries that do not reserve the right to animal test.  Then they could sleep comfortably at night knowing that they did not facilitate a relationship that will facilitate animal testing, but rather that they have chosen to work with people/countries that do not require them to dismantle their ethics and make them party to animal testing.

Finally, the fact that UD states this is the only way to start a cruelty free movement in China and that they will not be making any money makes me physically ill.  It is (pardon me) the biggest load of shit someone has ever tried to force down my throat.  UD, obviously you will be making money and don’t try to state otherwise because no one believes that at all.  Also once again your logic is flawed in thinking that abandoning your animal rights stance will somehow convince others to join this cause.  This baffles me completely. 

If you can not tell, UD’s decision to direct sell to China has elicited an emotional response from many cruelty free and vegan shoppers.  I never purchased from Mary Kay and Avon, who also decided to direct sell to China, because they stipulated “unless required by law” in their animal testing policy.  I never trusted these companies from the start. 

But Urban Decay?  I trusted them truly.  They had built up an identity that rejected animal testing and even clearly addressed the needs of their vegan shoppers with their vegan “Marley Approved” paw print to clearly identify all vegan products.  Yes, they did have issues labeling vegan products correctly at times, but I supposed this was due to bureaucratic company issues.  I’m sad for the animals, I’m sad that I bought into UD’s branding which I mistook for authentic belief, and I’m sad for the whole cruelty free movement to lose the last large cruelty company.  From now on, I think I will mainly be sticking to independent companies like Pumpkin and Poppy and other vegan makeup lines available on etsy.

Kristy from veggiebeauty posted a great video on this whole situation and the state of animal testing and cosmetics at the moment.  She discusses some alternative brands and what we should be looking for.  Hopefully this can provide some extra guidance.

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