A curious fact happened over the last few weeks. Images of people with cigarettes appeared on several Instagram accounts. However, what seemed to be regular photos were actually illegal promotion of the product carried on through influencers, with the idea of disguising the message from brand Kent.
The big issue is that manufacturer Souza Cruz, in charge of the campaign, according to EXAME magazine’s website, made two big mistakes. Both actions are, according to the law, illegal: the diffusion of any type of cigarette advertisement – law 10167/2000 – and sponsored posts with no information that make it clear that it is an ad, according to Conar.
According to people who took part in the action, the campaign was conducted by Hood agency, who sought for profiles of young smokers, fans of fashion, music, and partying. As per testimonies, influencers were supposed to post a total of 24 photos between October and December. The payment amount was between R$3000 to R$8000, based on the number of followers in each profile.
What can we learn with this influencers case from Kent?
Influencer marketing opens up a range of possibilities in the market and people are looking for opportunities to make money with this new model. In the case related above, individuals involved are mostly young people considered digital influencers, who have from 5,000 to 100,000 followers on Instagram.
From the moment a brand finds regular people who are followed by thousands of others, the temptation to take a shortcut is very strong. In this case, Kent hired an agency to perform a publicity campaign. The agency’s mistake – already knowing cigarette advertisements are totally forbidden – was to use digital influencers and believe the photos wouldn’t be promotional in nature. However, from the moment there is payment for someone to expose in their media a certain content, it is considered advertisement. Besides, the brand even specified the number of photos for each influencer to post.
Influencer marketing has a publicity impact and that is one of the reasons that make it an interesting strategy, once the cost is lower. For brands with reduced budget, it’s best to pay an individual who talks to an audience in that niche for an amount of up to R$8000 – such as in this situation – instead of running TV ads or any other type of media, which would be much more expensive. What lessons can we learn from it?
- Believing that influencer marketing will never be considered publicity is a mistake.
- Using influencer marketing to get around any kind of law will never be good business and can result in serious law suits.
- The brand must always check whether the influencer confirms a certain post is publicity or not.
As the notorious statement by Ben Parker says, “with great power comes great responsibilities”. Influencer marketing has an enormous power of persuasion and reach. However, it demands a lot of responsibility from the brands who wish to embrace such strategy in their business actions.
Just like people seek to connect when making a purchase, the brand should understand their role is exactly to generate an identification with the influencer. Once the creator is happy about your approach or product, he or she personifies the brand and consumers end up becoming fans.
Digital influencer Marimoon, who gave an interview to the blog and tested the influency-me influencer marketing platform, talked about the value of including hashtags in the posts.
“Communication professionals call it paid media. Us creators say #ads or #publi. You have to inform your follower that a certain post is publicity, even when it’s about a natural photo that isn’t as explicit. As well as respecting the law, you also keep the connection with your fan”, commented the YouTuber, who also presented the latest Rock in Rio for Globo TV.