Proactiv and Its Harmful Marketing Strategies


Proactiv brand dates back to the 90s when it was launched by Doctors Rodan and Fields and first surfed the acne treatment market. The treatments’ active ingredient is benzoyl peroxide which can be suitable for some and cause allergy in others. But, apart from the product quality, Proactiv’s advertising strategies are visibly aggressive and potentially harmful for the customers.

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Thesis statement

The company provides little information about the product; it has insulted customers and currently overuses pop culture in the ads; finally, it has a pervasive subscription policy that forces the customers to purchase.

Thesis support

Firstly, the information about the product’s dermatological qualities and side effects does not appear anywhere but on the website. From the customers learn what the active ingredient is and how to use the medication (“Drs. Rodan & Fields: Proactiv” n.pag.). Apart from the website, there is a huge information gap in the adverts.

Speaking about the adverts, they not only lack informativity but also vary from being merely distractive to downright offensive. Consider an ad that diminishes the customers like this one. Some people might say it is effective. But then, the effectiveness seems to lie in making the customers feel ugly and unlovable (Oltmanns, n.pag.). What the ad does is increase their vulnerability, which can hardly be considered an immediate call to purchase.

Back in the 90s, the ads were insulting. Today, they are elusive. Infomercials, in particular, have received much criticism for overusing pop star images and eclipsing the brand. Stars like Justin Bieber and Adam Levine testify about Proactiv’s excellent qualities but do not tell what these qualities are (Proactiv). The celebrities’ part is limited to singing praises to the product and urging the clients to buy. Sometimes a star is filmed applying this or that moisturizer to their face. Thus, instead of informing the customers, the infomercials are mainly concerned with celebrities’ personas – and leave the customer uninformed yet again.

It only takes to google “Proactiv scam” to find hundreds of stories where Proactiv failed to cancel a customer’s subscription upon their demand. The company charges them and sends products they have never ordered. It can be the result of bad customer service. On the other hand, such practice seems to have revved into top gear, considering the number of dissatisfied customers (“Proactiv: Consumer Complaints & Reviews,” n.pag.). It seems that the company is literally forcing them to buy, which is quite distressing.


There is an opinion concerning the pop star abuse in Proactiv’s ads. An anonymous author thinks the strategy admits that the celebrities’ smooth faces are a part of the image. But the main goal is to show that the stars can also have skin issues, which helps the brand to gain the clients’ trust (“Proactiv’s Creative Strategy” par. 1).

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What actually happens is that the image of acne-free skin is equated to the image of beauty and success. Those who could just as well feel beautiful and worthy of their acne are forced to feel ugly, which is the brand’s goal: to make the customers feel ugly enough to buy the product.


To conclude, Proactiv’s marketing strategies are harmful to the customers. Although the product can cause side effects and allergies, the ads misinform and belittle the buyers, and the subscription policies balance on the fringe of illegal. Raising awareness about such strategies can benefit consumers who could otherwise be overcharged, mistreated, and abused.

Works Cited

Drs. Rodan & Fields: Proactiv. Guthy-Renker, LLC., 2016. Web.

Oltmanns, David. “Proactiv Solution!” Ad Strategy: Thinking about the thinking behind advertising. 2010. Web.

“Proactiv: Consumer Complaints & Reviews.” Consumer Affairs. Consumers Unified LLC, 2016. Web.

“Proactiv’s Creative Strategy in Advertising Leans On a Clear, Unblemished Brand Image.” CI-Group. CI-Group, 2012. Web.

Proactiv. “Interview with Adam Levine for Proactiv+.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 2015. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, March 24). Proactiv and Its Harmful Marketing Strategies. Retrieved from

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"Proactiv and Its Harmful Marketing Strategies." StudyCorgi, 24 Mar. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Proactiv and Its Harmful Marketing Strategies." March 24, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Proactiv and Its Harmful Marketing Strategies." March 24, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Proactiv and Its Harmful Marketing Strategies." March 24, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Proactiv and Its Harmful Marketing Strategies'. 24 March.

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