Paid to mislead

August 17, 2015 - 5 minutes read

Yesterday I watched a cooking TV show in which the host was trying really hard to make a pie dough with a food processor. It was crumbing. It was squeaking, it was trembling, I thought it would explode at the end. But noooo, he was so eager to use that stupid machine that it was quite clear: someone paid the show producers big money to make a fool out of the chef. At that moment I was completely sure that I will never ever buy any home appliance produced by that company. However, I am quite sure that marketing department of this brand was so happy because they got 5 minutes of close shot of their branded appliance on national TV. GRPs were jumping, people were watching, but the truth behind the success of this product placement is completely different from ratings.

Then, I thought it would be fair that this poor chef said at the beginning of the show: “Good evening guys. Tonight we’re going to make a great pie. The brand X paid us big bucks to use their stupid food processor, so I am going to look like an idiot in the following program. It’s much easier to use your hands for making this dough, so please stay tuned and ignore the product placement.”

That would be really fair for us and for (poor) him.

[Tweet “TV product placements are easy to detect and crack only for the reason that you know TV seconds are expensive”] and no one would be crazy enough to let you get a free air time. Each time you see a brand in a TV show, you know it’s paid because it is expensive at the beginning.

But what about social media?

Few years ago when I installed Instagram app, I followed some celebrities because none of my friends got this app yet, so I followed people I don’t know. I followed about 200 recommended people for me. Each day I opened this app, I saw this egg shaped lip balm that posh celebrities were using. Then, after few months, I saw some local fashion bloggers snapping selfies with this lip balm. I had no idea what it was, but I instantly learned its name- EOS. I remember I travelled abroad that year and while I was waiting at the cash register to buy some stuff at H&M, I saw it on the dog shelf. I instantly bought it for no real reason. Few days later, I opened my Instagram and I saw the most obnoxious person putting that balm on her duckface lips. I threw it right away and I unfollowed that person. I don’t have to tell you that I won’t buy EOS ever again.

Later on, it got me thinking: I was quite sure that Kim Kardashian was paid o post selfie with this product, but what happened with that local duckface fashion blogger? I am sure no one paid her for that. She just did it to be trendy. She just did it to show off that she has 5 EUR to pay for a lipbalm, not 1 EUR because she’s too god for that.

And I was pissed off. I started unfollowing all the people who put paid and even more UNPAID product placements using this criteria:

  • It was obvious show off
  • It was completely irrelevant recommendation considering their profession and knowledge
  • It was obviously paid and I saw it more than 2 times at their profiles in a week

After unfollowing these people, my life got much better. Today I mostly have my friends who don’t put me in a position to think if the product that they are posting is a paid endorsement or not. I know they like it and there is no money behind the photo. Sometimes it might be a promotional gift, but that doesn’t bother me, because they got something for free.

At the top of this iceberg you have the famous Kim Kardashian who is pregnant (for you who have missed this somehow) and who posted a recommendation for a sickness drug. “OMG! Have you heard of this?” And this sickness drug saved her life, if somehow you missed that too. After a while, the jaw of law stumbled upon a producer. They violated the law regarding advertising drugs. FDA even said that she was misleading the followers because she had not informed them of the risks of taking this drug. She took down the post and that’s all. But what I am most curious about is if she really took that drug. I would bet not.

[Tweet “I truly believe that all products placements on social media should be clearly marked.”] I might be trained to spot them and avoid them, but some people aren’t. And I really believe that they don’t deserve to think that their morning sickness might go away without any risk, just because some celebrity was paid big bucks to say so.
[Tweet “THIS POST CONTAINS PRODUCT PLACEMENT is a small disclaimer that could save us from misconceptions.”]
P.S. This post was not paid by anyone. Cheers to freedom!