Will this scandal of wage slavery in India – so diligently dug up by The Observer – ruin the brand equity of the glamour model also known as Jordan? I think not.
Katie Price was never very fragrant in the first place and – in fairness – never set out to be. Hard-boiled yes, arguably mercenary, but not a hypocrite. The perfumes in question – Stunning and Besotted – are the woman: overpowering, unsubtle but strangely memorable. There’s a vulgar, almost disarming, candour to her self-diagnosis of success: “Some people may be famous for creating a pencil sharpener. I’m famous for my tits.” No one could accuse her of trying to rescue the developing world from poverty; she’s just out to make money while she can.
The hypocrisy lies elsewhere. I wonder how many other celebrity essences are bottled and marketed in flasks produced for the equivalent of 26p an hour? They may not have had the benefit of media exposure yet, but you can bet that Superdrug will at this minute be doing some long overdue diligence on the branded wares of, for example, Sarah Jessica Parker, Britney Spears, and Maria Carey to verify they are as robustly ethical as the high street retailer would have us believe.
I understand that the Pragati Glass Company, which manufactures the offending Price perfume bottles, has closed down its operation in India and switched production to much more expensive premises in the UK and France. Why ever do that? Surely it should have taken a leaf out of Apple’s book. Confronted with irrefutable evidence that it was paying its Chinese workers a pittance and driving them to suicide, Foxconn – main supplier of the iPad and iPhone – reformed its working practices and doubled employees’ wages. That must be a lot less harmful to Apple’s margins than repatriating production – and has the added merit of sustaining employment in a developing economy.