TikTokers slam e.l.f. Cosmetics Mean Girls product placement. Is it justified?

By Amanda Pauley | Published: 5-Feb-2024

With TikTokers calling e.l.f.'s product placement forced, Cosmetics Business explores how brands can successfully achieve brand integration in TV shows and movies

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E.l.f. Cosmetics, a Gen Z-marketed brand known for creating viral moments, has experienced a backlash against its product placement in the Mean Girls movie released last month.

TikTok and Instagram users have complained about the drugstore products being advertised in the musical adaptation of the 2004 teen blockbuster film, stating it feels forced. 

But is the criticism justified? 

E.l.f. Cosmetics appears in Mean Girls throughout the two hour film, including when Regina George, the antagonist and leader of the film's popular girl group ‘The Plastics’, drops the brand’s Glow Reviver Lip Oil into a sink.

Another notable moment is when protagonist Cady Heron, played by Angourie Rice, references an exact product name – e.l.f. Cosmetics O Face Satin Lipstick. 

It needed to be more subtle as Gen Z is all about authenticity

Influencer Emily Grosser has mocked the brand’s paid-for placement in her TikTok video ‘POV: You’re watching Mean Girls’, amassing 3.8 million views.

In the clip, Grosser pretends to be a Mean Girls character and uses a lip balm with a large e.l.f. sticker to highlight the obvious nature of the placement.

Others argued that e.l.f. Cosmetics did not align with Regina George’s 'queen bee' values, stating the character – who is from a wealthy family – would carry luxury brands in her make-up bag.

“She would never be caught wearing an expensive ass outfit and then using an e.l.f.’s lip oil," said influencer Mila Jaye in her TikTok, which has 5.4 million views.

“For the people who are OG [original] Mean Girls fans… it was not aligned with the brand or the movie.” 

E.l.f. Cosmetics has not responded to Cosmetics Business' request for comment. 

The Glow Reviver Lip Oil was one e.l.f. Cosmetics product which featured in Mean Girls

The Glow Reviver Lip Oil was one e.l.f. Cosmetics product which featured in Mean Girls

Was the product placement worth it?

Love it or hate it, e.l.f. Cosmetics' product placement made an impact. 

Although the brand did not respond to Cosmetics Business’ request for sales data relating to products used in the movie, the hashtag #meangirlselfmakeup has garnered 20.4 billion views on TikTok since the movie's release on 12 January 2024.

Global Google searches for ‘e.l.f. Glow Reviver Lip Oil’ soared

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