Ginger + Liz Threatens to Sue Blogger: How to Give your Brand a Bad Name

Saturday, July 17, 2010

19 comments
EDITED TO ADD: It has come to my attention that the situation was more complex than I thought it was, as by the time I had read Squarrell's post, she might have edited it slightly, and I've just seen her comments on All Lacquered Up's blog (which, by the way, is quite heavy on promotion for G+L. There is speculation among the nail fanatic community that ALU could have some sort of relationship with G+L for promoting them on her blog, but all that is unverified, since both ALU and G+L have refused to comment on it). While I do agree that this makes the situation different from what I originally thought it was, my main opinion on the entire issue is largely unchanged. I do agree that Sara may have been in the wrong if her comments of rebottling weren't true, and if that is the case, G+L should correct this. However, sending a lawyer's letter right off the bat is a very heavy-handed response given that they are just dealing with one individual, and one that is too harsh, and bound to give the company a bad reputation. Instead, a much better thing to do would have been to get a PR person to send out a more friendly-sounding email clarifying the situation - that would have gotten the same effect, and have avoided the drama. Justified or not, this is still really bad publicity for G+L, which could have been avoided. A lawyer's letter should be the last line of resort, not the first thing you think of, especially when dealing with harmless individuals who are your customers!


Have you ever heard of Ginger + Liz? Well, I haven't either. Did you know they made nail polish? Neither did I. So why am I suddenly blogging about them?

Turns out, my very first introduction to this brand is in THIS POST, where Squarrell, one of the beauty bloggers I follow on Twitter, writes about how she received a Cease and Desist letter from the legal team of Ginger + Liz. They accuse her of defaming their product, and want her to retract her posts, and not engage in further defamation.

Now, of course, being a blogger myself, this piqued my interest. What on earth could she have done to them to deserve this? Did she say their stuff sucked without trying it out? Did she spread lies about them? Well, turns out they were offended at THIS POST, and THIS POST, where she compared some Ginger + Liz nail polish colours (which she bought herself) with some cheaper Diamond Cosmetics colours.

So, this brand I know nothing about is threatening to sue a blogger I know and love for COMPARING COLOURS THAT ARE SIMILAR. They claim that's defamation, and she hasn't said anything bad about them in her posts at all (go back and read it if you haven't)! So now, writing that "this colour is X, this colour is Y, X is 1 coat, Y is 2" is defamation. Great, now I'm going to get sued by all the companies for all the comparison posts I made. Is MAC now going to sue me because I said their Coco pigment was similar to a YDK eyeshadow? Is Bobbi Brown now going to sue me because I said a L'Oreal Hip duo was a better dupe of her product?

Obviously not (or so I hope). The big guns know that that's not defamation - and more importantly, that comparisons are what we do on a daily basis. I compare stuff for you, I tell you what I like better after I've tried it, I show you colours I think might be similar, and hopefully help you save money, or at least make better-informed decisions. It's not defamation, it's all my own opinion, based on my own experience with their product. It's just the nature of blogging - our personal experience with a product is what makes us different from (and in my own opinion, more interesting than) your average beauty magazine loaded with ads, dripping with product placements and filled with slanted editorials. Now I know there are bloggers and blogs which are dripping with ads too, but Squarrell isn't one of them (go take a look at her blog - she doesn't even run GoogleAds). Ginger + Liz obviously has no clue what the nature of blogging is, or for that matter, how to better harness the collective power of the blogosphere to get their brand name out there. Instead they're threatening to sue people for having an opinion. It's like they mixed up their marketing team with their legal team.

Well, obviously Ginger + Liz is going to now make a name for itself, but for all the wrong reasons. I don't think having people associate you with lawsuits is a good thing if you're a nail polish company. They should really hire more PR people and less lawyers (and I hope they don't sue me for saying that). I've never bought anything from them, and now you can bet I never will.

19 comments:

  1. WOW. I don't even know where to begin.
    Just...so wrong on so many levels. I always enjoy reading Daily Polish, and I have yet to see a post where Sara is even remotely defaming a product. :-(

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  2. Ugh, people need to realize that us bloggers review things for a reason, good or bad. If they can't take the opinions, then they shouldn't be making a product for HUMANS. I recently went through something like this with a company when reviewing a product (I also sex blog somewhere else) because they weren't happy they I rated a product 2/5 stars instead of taking down the post and just telling them that it sucked.

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  3. oh god... these people are SUING a blogger for her own opinion? Isn't that what blogging is all about? Jeez.. after reading this, I agree that I've never heard of them before this event and I will NEVER buy their products now... perhaps I may tell my friends too. Shame on you Ginger + Liz.

    <3jimin

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  4. These companies never seem to realise how big, and how inter-connected the internet beauty world really is, in the sense that word travels fast and a bad rep online can be the death knell for a small company. But if they're that silly, maybe they shouldn't be in business in the first place.

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  5. I was sympathetic towards Sara until someone on MUA pointed me to Sara's original comments on All Lacquered Up blog. After reading her comments there, I have to say that I found them to be quite defamatory and can kind of understand better why G+L took offense. In her comments Sara didn't say that it was her opinion but a fact that the polishes were identical from identical companies.

    http://www.alllacqueredup.com/2010/05/ginger-liz-groove-swatch-comparison-review.html

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  6. @Mindy: Thank you for your comment, this news has just filtered in to me via Twitter a couple of hours ago. I do see that the situation is more complex than I originally thought it was, and I do agree that Sara may have been mistaken in her comments if they weren't true. However, I also still think that sending a lawyer's letter right off the bat is a bit too harsh, and is very heavy-handed on G+L's part. In my opinion a much better thing to do to produce the same effect without the drama would have been to get a PR person to send out a more friendly-sounding email clarifying the situation.

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  7. Please read this post (not affiliated) http://www.addictedtoallthingspretty.com/Ginger-Liz-threatens-Blogger-legal-action-9155696

    It explains WHY what Sarah said was wrong. A lot of people are failing to realize this.

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  8. @Dominique: Thanks for your comment, and for the link! I do agree that Sara may be in the wrong, but even then, like I've said in the comments and in my "Edited to Add" part of the post, a lawyer's letter is overreacting when you're only dealing with one individual who's also a customer. They could have gotten their PR people to send out friendlier-sounding emails first, and those would have probably worked. If they don't, then it's still not to late to send a lawyer's letter. Sending the letter first doesn't generate them any goodwill. They may be justified, but it's still really bad strategy on their part.

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  9. WOW! big shame on them! suing a blogger?? That is crazy!! Anyways,love your blog it's really fabulous and interesting :)

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  10. Absolutely ridiculous...I don't even know what to say. Thank you for putting this information out there. We'll have to keep ourselves updated and see where this goes, but calling it defamation is completely ludacris. That's what bloggers do!

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  11. I totally agree with you, that does seem overly heavy handed! I mean regardless of what she may or may not have said the quickest way for a situation to get out of hand is to start handing out the legal letters - especially when a polite letter pointing out the facts would have been a much smarter first step. I had never heard of this brand either and now my first impression of them is less then favourable...

    Best, Lisamarie

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  12. "G+L & ALU have refused to comment on their financial relationship?"
    That's a violation of the FTC blogger rules, ALU's reviews of G+L products constitute product endorsements and she's required to make a full disclosure of all her financial ties to the company or she can be fined. This is exactly why the FTC rules exist.

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  13. @Anonymous: Thanks for your comment. Maybe "refused" is the wrong word to use in my sentence. The point I was making was that neither G+L nor ALU have clarified what the nature of their relationship is exactly despite the speculation that's been going on for sometime. I think I'll change my post accordingly. I do agree that bloggers are obliged and they SHOULD indeed declare whatever relationships they have. Thanks for the comment!

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  14. Thanks for clarifying that.

    I took a look at the ALU post - that those comments still are up points out the whole problem with G+L's approach. First, why is that still up, the apparently worst of the comments, while they are focusing on Sara's own blog? And second, what's to stop her (or anyone else, for that matter) to continue anonymous posting on blogs other than their own. If G+L had taken a different approach, reaching out to Sara & providing information to customers at large about their manufacturer & their product's claimed uniqueness this situation would never have arisen. Instead, a considerable time after the original post, they suddenly go after her, and only her, with a sledge hammer, with the result of driving up traffic to her relatively innocuous posts. They are making their problem worse by their own actions.
    .

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  15. @Anonymous: I've no idea why the comments are still up on the ALU post, and why they're still there is anyone's guess. And I do agree that G+L could have handled the situation much better than they did. I think clarifying the situation via a PR person would be much better than sending out a lawyer, because as we know that unfortunately backfired on them.

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  16. As a blogger who has been threatened and served a C&D, I can tell you I will NEVER give that G+L company my money now. It's HORRIBLE!

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  17. It's disturbing that we bloggers are being threatened with LAWSUITS. I mean, come on. I was sent a C&D by a lawyer about a month ago and it really scared me and shook me up - but it also upset me. I mean, I haven't made a SINGLE CENT from my blog - I am advertising their product - and they are having lawyers send me letters??? WHAT??? ugh. We do so much for them... it is sad that they feel they need to be so heavy-handed. Thanks for sharing - I'm glad Sara's plight is not going unheard!!

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  18. I would just like to point out that Michelle from ALU HAS actually clarified her relationship with Ginger and Liz, many times in fact. She has to disclose any formal relationships with a company in every post about that company. She's disclosed on the bottom of every post that she received samples. In the past she has stated to me that having a formal relationship as you have strongly insinuated would be "selling her soul for a bottle of nail polish" and not something she would be willing to do.

    The rumors on MUA are likely the result of other nail bloggers and MUA nail boarders (of which I am one) who frankly have been jealous of Michelle for years. In their eyes, everything she does is wrong, this has blatantly been true in the past, though the situation had been a bit quieter until now. Pulling ALU into this mess and using MUA rumors to back yourself up is pretty shameful.

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  19. Wouldn't "Dupe That" fall under that? How can they possibly think they can sue? Ppl are weird.

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Thank you for commenting! I read each and every single comment! If you ask a question in your comment, please check back to this post, as I will reply in a comment to this post as well :) Please note that comments with soliciting links to shops or websites will be removed. Thanks!

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