Beauty YouTuber Patrick Starrr recently announced his #StarrrSearch contest in an Instagram post. To enter the contest, social media users need to create a 15-second video to their TikTok or Instagram featuring products from Starrr's makeup line ONE/SIZE. Winners will receive a prize that Starrr says has a $5,000 value: they will be featured in Starrr's next beauty campaign, be included on the brand's PR list for one year to receive new products in advance, and have their video featured in some of the brand's advertising and in-store displays. While many of Starrr's followers praised him for wanting to feature smaller creators, I personally feel that this contest only exploits the work of the creators who enter.
One of the main issues that I have with this contest is the very specific criteria for the entry videos. The post states that the 15-second videos must include product application and product close-ups and that the creator must pose for the camera. Entrants must also use products from ONE/SIZE's Visionary collection specifically, and the post also mentions that only unlicensed music or the "Visionary song" can be used in the video.
The entrance requirements are clearly setting up entrants to make an ad for the brand for free. The post is very specific about what creators need to do in their videos and even mentions using unlicensed music -- presumably so that the video can be used in advertising without any work or editing on the part of the brand's actual team. Starrr even asks creators to use products from a specific collection, rather than just allowing entrants to use ONE/SIZE products that they like and already own (many creators were dismayed that they couldn't afford to buy products from the Visionary collection). This is work that any creator would normally be paid for, especially with such specific criteria for the videos. The contest is essentially asking for free labor, especially considering that the videos will potentially be used directly in the brand's advertising.
Another issue that I have with this contest is that creators are only doing this work for a chance to win this prize package that supposedly has a $5,000 value. This chance is not proper payment at all, and Starrr didn't even specify how many winners he would pick. Of course, winning could absolutely provide great publicity for smaller creators, but, again, creators only get a slim chance of even winning anything. The countless others who don't win will have simply worked to provide free advertising for ONE/SIZE.
The prize package itself is also questionable as a form of payment. The $5,000 value is doubtful to me: I'm assuming Starrr is putting a high value on an opportunity to be in a beauty campaign with him. The larger issue here, however, is that Starrr did not say in the post that the winners would be paid for their work. These "prizes" really consist of more labor from the creators. If they appear in Starrr's next beauty campaign, their appearance is something that creators would normally be paid for. If their homemade advertisement is used as official advertisement for the brand and used for in-store displays, that is also something that creators would normally be paid for. Starrr's portrayal of these things as "prizes" suggests that the winners won't actually be paid -- instead, their payment is the "prize" of getting to be featured alongside Starrr. The fact is that the contest's "prizes" really just consist of the winners working for Starrr's brand. Winning this contest would be a great opportunity if they were being paid for their work, but instead, winners will be used by the brand for free labor.
The fact is that if Patrick Starrr wanted to get a more established creator to feature in his beauty campaign and advertisements, he would have to pay them to do so. Instead, he's created this contest where smaller creators will provide free advertising just in their entries, and the winners of his contest will work for his brand while only being paid in "exposure." His "prize" isn't really a prize at all: the contest is simply taking advantage of creators who want to build up a larger following. This is just a way for Patrick Starrr and his brand to get away with soliciting free advertising and unpaid labor under the guise of "winning" a contest. At best, Patrick Starrr's contest is a ploy for free advertising. At worst, it's an exploitation of smaller creators.