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