If you haven’t been keeping up with White Moose Café’s most recent public feud and the biggest public scandal since the Clinton emails, let us illuminate you. Controversy spinner Paul Stenson who is no stranger to PR stunts having milked the vegan hater train (soy milked, that is), requested corkage from breastfeeding mothers, and demanded to see a doctor’s note from Coeliacs, once again hit headlines taking on the social media influencer industry.
English beauty, fitness and travel influencer Elle Darby reached out to Dublin hotels to offer what she dubbed ‘a business transaction’ wherein exchange for a free or discounted hotel room in the Charleville Lodge Hotel, she would feature the accommodation on her instagram and write a favourable review. Little did she know that she had stoked the Stenson tsunami and the ensuing vitriol that followed (in both directions).
Stenson took to social media and posted a screenshot of Darby’s email and a scathing post to boot. The post was met with condemnation and praise in equal measures
Some labeled Stenson’s tactics as ‘genius’ whilst others marked it as ‘the lowest of the lowest publicity stunt’.
But despite the immense free publicity, a la Micheal O’Leary, for the White Moose Cafe and Charleville Lodge to whom the email was originally sent, the real fallout of this controversy is the ‘influencer’ industry as people are left questioning the reliability and transparency of these so-called ‘social media influencers’. The ASAI released guidelines in response to the growing number of influencers some time ago. In the documents any person who is being paid to promote a product, service or other, is required to inform their followers by using the hashtags #ad or #sp (advert or sponsored post).
Now, RTE reported on Friday the 19th of January that a commission has been launched to review the role of social media influencers.
It would seem that this is a response to the growing feeling of distrust people have towards these types of personalities. Whilst there is no substantial study on this phenomena carried out as of yet, we can rely on the satirical and hard hitting ‘news’ website Waterford Whispers News to have their finger on the pulse when it comes to the mood of the country.
So, what is the lesson to take away from this fiasco? Well, you need to ensure your marketing team know their stuff, and that you are working with influencers who are trustworthy, genuine and are following the ASAI guidelines to protect consumers.
At the end of the day, followers of these bloggers can smell a rat, so it’s only a matter of time before this behaviour is more regulated and wiped out completely.