Amid ongoing concerns around Influencer marketing and the way in which ads are presented, Listerine – or more so its parent company Johnson & Johnson – has landed itself in the belly of the beast this week.
Within just weeks of an investigation being launched surrounding Influencer marketing and how transparent bloggers need to be, Listerine has landed itself in a crisis following one of its Influencer’s warranting a lot of attention – but all the wrong kind of attention, mind.
#BringOutTheBold or #WatchTheChaosUnfold?
You’ve probably heard about the infamous Listerine Instagram ad, but if you haven’t then:
- It involved the Instagram user and famed blogger, Scarlett London
- The ad was (in my opinion) pretty harmless but has sparked outrage for setting ‘unrealistic standards’
- Thousands have people have took to Twitter to complain and insult the Influencer, including celebrities and even MP’s
And as for the post…
Well, it’s certainly whimsical for sure and definitely isn’t indicative of a legitimate routine. I mean I suppose we’d all like to wake up surrounded by balloons (yet probably not the tortilla wrap ‘pancakes’) each morning. But realistically – we all know that the typical ‘everyday person’s’ morning involves a lot grunting, questionable bed hair and the repeated slamming of the snooze button – and no, there’s never a strawberry in sight.
Anyway, I have two takes on this story. Part of me thinks that people really ought to leave this poor girl alone. Since the posts backlash, Scarlett London has admitted that yes the post is unrealistic and isn’t representative of the norm, but she says that that’s what her Instagram is all about . Fair do’s!
“Instagram is a highlight reel of filtered lives. I think we are underestimating educated young people if we truly think that they believe every photo they see is total reality and not staged in the slightest.”
She’s also – and more worryingly – revealed that she’s received a number of death threats since her photo went viral, I mean, seriously?! What kind of person do you have to be to act that maliciously over a social media post?
“It turned from light hearted to nasty quite quickly. I think people lose touch with the fact there is a real person behind all of this – a human being.”
From my personal point of view, this whole situation is just painting a vivid picture of how toxic social media can be and how careful you ought to be with it. What was intended to be an effervescent and innocent post, may have actually damaged this young woman’s career beyond repair.
However, on the flip side of the coin – there’s an outreacher in me that’s screaming into my hands at this whole situation. Not only was the post (and i’m sorry to Scarlett, who I do legitimately feel sorry for) incredibly poor as a paid-for ad (the product placement is allllll off), but its adverse reaction might also be devastating for Johnson & Johnson’s brand.
The tough topic of Influencers
Influencers are becoming an increasingly taboo topic of discussion. Are they even influential anymore? How transparent do they need to be with their ads? How important is product placement?
Let me answer those questions.
Are Influencers even influential anymore? To me, yes Influencers are still incredibly influential as long as they are only promoting products and services relevant to them and their brand, and in an approachable way. (I really do have issues with bloggers that abandon their USP by taking on far too many irrelevant ads – but that’s a story for another day).
How transparent do Influencers need to be? They need to be wholly transparent with their brands, which to be fair to Scarlett she did do.
How important is product placement in an Influencer campaign? And to answer the last question, product placement is very important – in fact, it’s paramount – and this hot-topic ad is pretty dire for it (sorry). I have to question whether it was reviewed by anybody at Listerine before it went live, but I would highly doubt it. There’s an ongoing debate as to how prominent products need to be in a paid-for ad, but for me I sit on the traditional side of the fence wherein I believe that if a blogger is paid for a campaign, then they should certainly be selling the product or service to the best of their ability. Like, be natural with the post by all means, but also consider whether a tiny bottle of Listerine in the corner is doing really anything for the brand.
But is all publicity good publicity?
Another taboo question, and certainly one worth debating.
Though Scarlett is unfortunately currently being ripped apart by social media, I can’t deny that this must have done her a few favours too. I could imagine her following has grown and the views to her socials and site certainly would have increased in the recent days gone by.
And as for Listerine, well, though the post is circulating vividly through social media recently with a lot of negative comments, we also must remember that the same photo does contain the product and it does contain the brand name. Have Listerine landed themselves more publicity than they ever expected from this outreach campaign? Sadly, all the attention is focused around Scarlett and Listerine are, effectively, out of the woods. Meaning that though I believe their brand should be questioned – the likelihood is that it wont be, they’ve probably just earned themselves a tonne of publicity.
What do I think?
Well, as mentioned above, I certainly think that all this ridiculing of Scarlett London needs to stop.
The negative backlash in this situation has almost certainly been misplaced. This poor girl has remained true to herself and has only acted in a way that she thought was right. Lets be honest, has she really harmed anybody, or are people just looking for something to talk about?
As Scott Guthrie rightly said, we need to be looking at Listerine and asking questions like “why are they not screening their ads” and “why are they not briefing bloggers effectively or creatively? Scott brings up some incredibly valid points in his post, so I would definitely recommend reading it.
What do you think? Is Scarlett London at fault here, or do you agree with Scott and I and would argue that Listerine’s creative team need to take more responsibility? Let me know in the comments below.
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