The Honest Formula

April 28, 2016 16:40:37 Posted at April 28, 2016 16:40:37
Maria Posted by Maria
iPix211/ London Entertainment/ Splash News

You know where we are with The Honest Company? They have so many lawsuits that Racked catalogued them -- read it here. There've been serious complaints about the sunscreen, shampoo and body wash, laundry detergent, and now organic baby formula.

In the latest lawsuit, The Organic Consumers Association alleges, "Of the 40 ingredients . . . more than a quarter are synthetic substances that are not allowed in organic products . . . some . . . are federally regulated as hazardous compounds. At least one of these ingredients is irradiated . . . some have not been assessed as safe for human foods, much less for infant formulas." (Source)

Although Alba didn't promote the formula launch as vigorously as she does the other Honest products, most headlines include her name. Stories include her image. She's the face of The Honest Company, and even though it consistently gets "not so Honest" type headlines, the brand is not hurting. As the Racked article asserts, they are moving toward an IPO or sale and some analysts don't see these lawsuits making a "material impact."

The consensus is that Honest customers are loyal to the brand. And let's not forget that Jessica has access to millions of dollars in free publicity via celebrity gifting (to her friends), paparazzi photos, and general "Jessica Alba: Mom" stories that many magazines are happy to provide space for. A few dozen negative headlines about Honest won't sink years of good PR.

What Honest hasn't done, at the time of this writing, is post a defence on its website. Typically this is its strategy around lawsuits or criticism - they come out with an emotional (from Jessica) and scientific (from the company) rebuttal (click here for a refresher). Instead, the company has issued a brief statement to Page Six to say they are confident it will be dismissed, as they do with all of their legal skirmishes.

Here's what I don't understand about the laundry detergent and baby formula lawsuits, which both center around ingredients: either those ingredients are in the products or not, right? Am I missing something? Is the formula organic or not? Is this difficult to prove? In both cases The Honest Company cites third party certification, and when it comes to the laundry detergent (not sure about the baby formula), they also use third party manufacturing. Is this simply growing pains in dealing with complex ingredients and rigorous standards, or is the executive team out of its depth when it comes to sourcing and securing manufacturing partners? Is the marketing team overly aggressive with its labelling and messaging, or is this lying, plain and simple?

I think at this point everyone can agree that these allegations mean something. There are too many lawsuits, too many complaints. Jessica can't hold up the "we get more criticism because of our celebrity connection" defence here. If anything, Honest has had to move forward from the "Jessica Alba needs cute, non-toxic diapers" story to evolve.

And it has. Today, Honest pounds on the idea of responsibility, consumer transparency, labeling and removing toxins, and setting the gold standard in environmentally sound domestic products. Peace of mind (for the hip parent who can afford it), that's what the brand sells. But is it what the products really offer?

That's not a question Jessica will have to answer today (or any time soon) because there's always more opportunity for a mocktress. In what is certainly fortuitous timing, today is Jessica's birthday -- that will be the main headline and this lawsuit will turn into a footnote. It's fine. Until next time.

Attached - Jessica Alba at LAX last week. 

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