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Bioré apologizes after using TikToker who survived school shooting to promote pore strips

Viewers felt the inclusion of a school shooting in a skincare ad was insensitive and “dystopian.”
Biore deep cleansing pore strips.
Biore deep cleansing pore strips.Fir Mamat / Alamy
/ Source: NBC News

Skincare company Bioré and influencer Cecilee Max-Brown have apologized for a recent partnership post after backlash over the video’s references to a school shooting.

Max-Brown posted a sponsored TikTok on Thursday in support of Bioré’s campaign for Mental Health Awareness Month. In the video, she shared her experience with anxiety after going into lockdown on campus during the shooting at Michigan State University in February.

She also showed off a box of Bioré pore strips and encouraged viewers to “get it all out, not only what’s in your pores but most importantly what’s on your mind, too.”

“I found myself recently struggling from seeing the effects of gun violence firsthand,” Max-Brown said in the video. “I’ve had to intentionally set aside time for prioritizing my mental health. I will never forget the feeling of terror that I had walking around campus for weeks in a place I considered home.”

Max-Brown graduated from Michigan State University last month and previously spoke about the shooting in another TikTok in February.

The partnership video went viral on TikTok and Twitter, sparking backlash from viewers.

“That Biore team deserves all the fire it’s about to catch for that ad because WHY are y’all running paid social using a school shooting survivor referencing said shooting as talking points in an ad for PORE STRIPS???” one person tweeted.

“These brand partnerships have gone too far. Biore teaming up with a mass shooting victim to “get it all out” is crazy,” another tweeted.

“This is so dystopian,” one Twitter user said.

The TikTok has been taken down from Max-Brown’s account. In an email to NBC News on Friday, Max-Brown said the TikTok “came off completely wrong.”

“I wanted the message to shed light on how I’ve been struggling with anxiety after our school shooting,” she said. “My only intention was to try and help other people that are going through the same experience, and not desensitize what happened.”

Max-Brown also posted an apology on her TikTok page on Sunday echoing this sentiment.

“This partnership was not intending to come off as the product fixing the struggles I’ve [had] since this event,” she said. “Rather partnering with a brand to spread awareness of what me and so many other students have been dealing with.”

The video was part of Bioré’s “Strip Away the Stigma” challenge, which aims to normalize conversations about mental health. The challenge is a part of the company’s ongoing “Get That S--- Out” campaign, its mental health initiative that launched in 2021.

“Our consumers have told us that mental health is one of their biggest priorities, and it is so important for us to be able to provide meaningful support to them around this issue,” said a Bioré spokesperson in an email. “This time, however, we did it the wrong way. We promoted one of our influencer’s stories in the campaign and the promotion of that content was insensitive. We are so sorry.”

In a previous statement sent to NBC News, which was also posted to Instagram, Bioré also said: “We lacked sensitivity around an incredibly serious tragedy, and our tonality was completely inappropriate.”

The spokesperson said the company would continue to support mental health initiatives moving forward.

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