Many celebrities have very active social media accounts, some attracting millions of followers. For the most part, those followers are happy to read about the lives and activities of the celebrities — including the products and brands that they use. But is there a dividing line between interesting stories and commercial plugs (that followers may not realize are ads in disguise)?

Consider these observations from Nick Bilton, writing for the NY Times:

“In 1982, Bill Cosby appeared on television [see the YouTube video] showing off a snazzy new computer. ‘Looking for a powerful home computer?’ he said as he waved his hands over a Texas Instruments PC that looks archaic now. ‘This is the one! With 16K memory, it can take you a long way.’ The commercial made it obvious that Mr. Cosby, a prominent comedian and television star, was being paid to promote the boxy device.”

“Computers have changed significantly in the decades since. And, to the confusion of consumers, celebrity endorsements have, too. Today, when celebrities and people with large followings on social networks promote a product or service, it’s often impossible to know if it’s an authentic plug or if they were paid to say nice things about it. Take Miley Cyrus, the 20-year-old pop star who was traveling around America promoting her new album. One morning, she posted on Twitter: ‘Thanks @blackjet for the flight to Silicon Valley!’ The details of the arrangement between BlackJet, a Silicon Valley start-up that arranges for private jet travel, and Ms. Cyrus are unclear. But Dean Rotchin, chief executive of BlackJet, said ‘she was given some consideration for her tweet.’ Ms. Cyrus did not respond to a request for comment.”

What do YOU think about these uncredited product plugs?

Click the image to read more from Bilton.


Photo by Texas Instruments


2 Replies to “Is It OK for Celebrities to Plug Products on Social Media?”

  1. I actually like that celebrities are willing to give uncredited product plugs because it I believe that it is actually beneficial to the company supporting the celebrity and the celebrity themselves. In Miley Cyrus’s case, she was clearly given free transportation to Silicon Valley and in the travel company’s case, they are benefiting by their name being publicized. Whether publicizing the company’s name was part of the agreement or not, it still helps the business equally. Even if the celebrity does not seem sincere when plugging a product, it still helps business. If it didn’t there would never be a reason to use a celebrity in a commercial, because those celebrities are very likely to be acting insincere in endorsing a product. A reader can view the post with skepticism, but I have no problem with it being posted.

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