PETA Buys Revlon Stock

PETA Buys Revlon Stock

If you love an old fashion boardroom sit-in, this promises to be good.

Revlon has just gained a rather unlikely shareholder: the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA’s recent stock purchase is part of its ongoing attempt to get answers from Revlon about their alleged involvement in animal testing.

Relations between the cosmetics goliath and the animal rights group went sour following Revlon’s entry into China. In order to market to the $15-billion-and-growing beauty market, the Chinese government requires that companies perform certain skin- and eye-irritation tests on animals.

Revlon has refused to comment on whether it is now involved in animal testing, but their mere presence in China is a strong signal that they have backslid on their 1989 no-animal-testing stance.

For more than two decades, Revlon was a member of PETA’s Caring Consumer Program, a group of cosmetics and personal-care companies that signed a statement asserting that they and their suppliers did not conduct or commission animal testing. PETA has removed Revlon from its cruelty-free list, but wants a definitive answer as to whether the company has strayed from its former commitments.

As a shareholder, PETA is now able to attend annual shareholder meetings and submit resolutions calling for transparency around Revlon’s animal testing policies. According to Tracy Reiman, PETA’s executive vice president, “since Revlon won’t come clean to consumers, maybe it’ll answer a shareholder.”

Awesome. Truly awesome.

From a business perspective I understand that Revlon wants their piece of the pie when it comes to the Chinese beauty market. But what I can’t understand is the audacity of the corporate leadership to try to maintain their animal-friendly image here in North America, while engaging in contradictory actions overseas.

Furthermore, given their size, market dominance, and desirability, Revlon could have used its power to push for changes in Chinese regulations. Rather than going against their commitment to animals, they could have partnered with PETA which is now working with the government of China to implement alternative methods to animal testing.

If you ask me, that wouldn’t just have been better for animals, it would have been smart business.

September 10, 2012