Kim Kardashian is certainly no stranger to courting controversy – remember how she ‘broke the Internet’ with her notorious Paper magazine shoot? However, last week she may have pushed her luck to breaking point, attracting heavy criticism not just from the haters, but from her own fanbase too. Why? For promoting ‘appetite suppressant’ lollipops to her impressionable followers and throwing up the question of ethics in the world of influencing.
The reality star, business impresario and mother-of-three was widely criticised on social media for sharing an Instagram pic of herself with a lollipop and the caption: “You guys… @flattummyco just dropped a new product. They’re Appetite Suppressant Lollipops and they’re literally unreal.
“They’re giving the first 500 people on their website 15% OFF so if you want to get your hands on some… you need to do it quick!”
There’s no doubting Kim’s clout in the world of influencing. This week, the Council of Fashion Designers of America Inc. (CFDA) announced that it would be honouring the most famous Kardashian as the first-ever recipient of their new ‘Influencer Award’. While last year, the CEO of the firm which manages many of the reality family’s deals told US Weekly that some companies have been known to pay up to $500,000 to access Kim’s millions of Instagram followers.
However, despite being one of many sponsored posts in Kim’s glossy gallery, this particular picture incurred the ire of many, including some high-profile characters like presenter and actress, Jameela Jamil. Jameela campaigns for body positivity, so it wasn’t surprising that she had a few scathing words to direct towards Kim, branding her a “terrible and toxic influence on young girls”.
While the major issue amongst brands and influencers over the past year has been more about the transparency of sponsored posts, Kim plays the game right as far as disclosure is concerned. She always clearly conveys that a post is sponsored with the requisite #ad, #spon, or #collab. However, the backlash she has experienced with this latest post goes deeper than transparency. It calls into question her own ethics, in the same way she was criticised for using International Women’s Day to plug her range of ‘Kimojis’, complete with feminist slogans as well as pictures of that famous behind.
Kim, who has won legions of fans by encouraging women to celebrate their bodies and do with them as they please, now looks like she is adding the caveat: “Unless those bodies are larger, in which case suppress your appetite.” Consequently, in the eyes of the fans who follow her, Kim isn’t looking good right now.
Additionally, the brand which creates the appetite suppressant lollipops has drawn equally negative attention their way. While they may have experienced a surge in exposure, in a world increasingly driven by social media, where authenticity and ethics are prized, we’d have to say that ‘all publicity is good publicity’ doesn’t always stand true. In fact, attention has been drawn to the disclaimer statement, tucked away in the corner of their website which reports: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.”
The moral of this sad tale is to take your audience into careful consideration and plan your posts with care. I’ve found it always pays to ensure you have a process in place to ‘sanity check’ posts – even that super-quick Tweet could cause some damage if you cause offence due to a lapse in judgement. That’s not to say that certain brands can’t benefit from a little controversy – if that’s what their audience wants – but it ought to be weighed, considered and in line with your brand’s message.
As well as creating high-quality content for our clients, we also manage social media accounts – so you can rest assured your brand is in safe hands. To find out what more we can offer, contact M2 Bespoke today.