Hustle and Post: The Cultural Impact of Instagram Sponsored Celebrity Posts

Curator's Note

It is very difficult to scroll through Instagram and not find a celebrity posting about some brand or product. The idea of using celebrities to endorse products is not new, think of the Wheaties box. However the combination of celebrity endorsing products via their personal social media networks is new. Instagram as a platform has cultivated a culture that values the aesthetic and the enviable. Sponsored celebrity posts on Instagram create affective value in not only the celebrity persona, but also the product itself. More simply, these products are seen as not only good and safe, but also desirable especially to the celebrities’ followers. Brands such as Fashion Nova, Flat Tummy Tea and WhatsAWaist (waist trainers) have harnessed the influencing power of the countless celebrities to promote their products. In an age where consumer reviews are a click away, companies bypass the skepticism of whether the product is effective or has value or worth, by having a celebrity promote the product on their personal Instagram page. Flat Tummy Tea, a viral company that sells weight loss and detox teas, spends considerable amounts of money on celebrity endorsements. However, the effectiveness of the tea to deliver intended results has been questioned by health professionals.  In 2015, the FDA sent Kim Kardashian a warning letter over her Instagram promotion of a morning sickness pill. The FDA claimed the post was misleading and did not warn her massive social media following of the possible side effects. This did not stop Kim from posting another ad promoting the product with the necessary warnings and slightly mocking the previous controversy. Both examples display how the layering of intrinsic and extrinsic attributes of celebrity and Instagram disrupts convention by reframing and reinforcing who holds societal and cultural value in a directed and personal way. Even with growing skepticism and federal government oversight, more and more companies are turning to celebrities to use their social networks to sell their products. The cultural impact is definitely evident, time will tell the effects.

 

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