The fallout from a widespread college admissions cheating scandal now includes major brands dropping their sponsorships of social media star Olivia Jade Giannulli, actress Lori Loughlin's daughter.
Loughlin and her husband, Massimo Giannulli, have been accused by authorities of paying $500,000 to a third party to create fake athletic credentials portraying their two daughters as rowers to make it easier for them to get into the University of Southern California as recruited athletes. Neither girl was part of a crew team in high school.
Known as Olivia Jade online, Giannulli became a popular fashion vlogger while she was still in high school, amassing 1.9 million YouTube followers and 1.4 million Instagram followers since 2015.
The 19-year-old now faces a backlash from brands with which she has sponsorship deals as well as critics calling for USC to drop her and her older sister, Isabella, as students.
The beauty brand Sephora, which launched the Olivia Jade x Sephora Collection Bronze & Illuminate with Giannulli in December, told TODAY in a statement Thursday that it has severed ties with her. The link on the company's website to her product line had been flooded with angry comments calling for Sephora to drop it after the scandal broke, but now returns a message saying "product not carried."
"After careful review of recent developments, we have made the decision to end the Sephora Collection partnership with Olivia Jade, effective immediately,'' the company said in a statement.
TRESemmé announced a similar decision on Thursday. "TRESemmé is no longer working with Olivia Jade Giannulli," a rep said in a statement obtained by TODAY.
In addition, computer company Hewlett-Packard made it clear that its relationship with Olivia Jade was only for a single promotion two years ago. She plugged HP's Sprocket photo printer in a post on her Instagram account in 2017.
"HP worked with Lori Loughlin and Olivia Jade in 2017 for a one-time product campaign,'' the company said in a statement to TODAY. "HP does not currently have a relationship with either of them."
Representatives of the Giannulli family did not respond to requests for comment by TODAY.
Her YouTube videos and Instagram posts include sponsored content, featuring products from Amazon, TRESemmé, Marc Jacobs Beauty, Smashbox Beauty Cosmetics, Lulus, Smile Direct Club, Boohoo and Too Faced Cosmetics.
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Lori Ruggiero, executive vice president of strategy at North 6th Agency, a public relations/social media agency based in New York City, told TODAY that many of the brands can take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to how the scandal will shake out because Giannulli herself has not been charged with any crime.
It's not surprising that Sephora acted quickly because her products on its website were getting negative comments and one-star ratings, but other brands don't necessarily have to act immediately, Ruggiero said.
"From a brand perspective, it's not as clear cut,'' Ruggiero said. "The person that they have to deal with isn't specifically the person who's facing charges because the charges are against her mother.
"The school has called itself a victim in this, so she too could make an argument that she is a victim of the fraud. Does USC expel her, do her fans attack her, or do they feel for her? Who knows if she doesn't put a video out saying she's a victim, and her fans sympathize with her, and there is her brand value."
USC said in a statement to TODAY that the university is conducting "a case-by-case review for current students and graduates that may be connected to the scheme."
Giannulli also has received a flood of angry comments on Instagram, where she has disabled comments on her three most recent posts.
"Many varsity athletes wake up at the crack of dawn to practice and others miss a lot of important school events because of tournaments and competitions, it’s a shame that you took the spot of someone that earned it from merit and not by throwing money at the coaches,'' one person wrote on a post from last month.
"I hope the school takes away whatever fake degree you had and makes you pay for the classes and take the test on your own in order to earn your degree,'' another wrote.
Giannulli also drew additional backlash from critics calling her entitled after TMZ reported and NBC News confirmed that she was spending spring break in the Bahamas on a yacht owned by USC chairman Rick Caruso when news of the scandal broke on Tuesday. Caruso's daughter, Gianna, is friends with Giannulli.
Loughlin was released on $1 million bond after appearing in federal court in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The actress, best known for playing Aunt Becky on “Full House," is among 33 wealthy parents that include CEOs, a doctor, a lawyer and fellow actress Felicity Huffman, who have been charged with paying bribes to get their children into top universities.
Giannulli has released multiple videos depicting her life at USC, including one in which she is getting ready for a party and another where she shows off a dorm room filled with products sent to her from Amazon.
"They hooked me up with basically everything in my dorm,'' she says in the video.
Giannulli, who has not been charged with any crime, had already drawn criticism in August when she said in one of her videos that she didn't care about college. The video received a host of comments calling her "privileged" and "spoiled."
“I don’t know how much of school I’m gonna attend,” she said in the video. “But I’m gonna go in and talk to my deans and everyone, and hope that I can try and balance it all. But I do want the experience of, like, game days, partying ... I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know."
She later posted a video apology on her YouTube channel.
"I'm really sorry to anyone I offended by saying I wasn't excited to do schoolwork, and for anything else I said that made me sound kind of like an idiot,'' she said in the video.
The "spoiled" accusations most likely won't have any dramatic effect on her brand, according to Ruggiero.
"I would say it's almost on brand,'' Ruggiero said. "I've looked through some of her past stuff, and she talks about how she comes from privilege and that her life is not a lot like others. It's not something she's tried to hide from her personal brand.
"People are always curious to get that peek behind the curtain of the rich and famous and the elite, so she's giving them that in a lot of ways."
In an interview with the Zach Sang Show posted on March 8, she talked about why she went to USC.
"Mostly, my parents really wanted me to go because both of them didn’t go to college,” Olivia Jade responds. "But I’m so happy they made me go. That sounds so terrible. They didn’t make me. I do like it. It’s also cool to create content from a whole different side of things, like in school."