Having been in theatre and performing most of my life, I’m going to start this blog a little more in my comfort zone…
Shakespeare once said: “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
I bet you’re wondering what relevance this quote has to this blog…
Without causing too many ‘eye rolls’, my overthinking has held me back.
Over the past seven weeks, I have overcome challenges I initially struggled with at the start of this course. With no marketing background or experience, I was afraid to put my work out there or contribute to discussions, fearing I wouldn’t have much to add. Before this module, I had also never written a blog before. Although I am still in the learning process and they are very basic, it’s something I feel I can progress on, and I really enjoyed writing them!
For this week’s blog, I have been challenged to discuss a new digital marketing application. I have the honour of my dog’s company whilst conducting my research, but he’s not being much help….
So, while Wilson relaxes, let’s get started!
Since the start of the digital age, mobile phones have become increasingly popular. I literally don’t know one person in my life who doesn’t own one, even my grandparents! If you suddenly remember your car insurance is due, or you’re trying to prove to your friends that The Queen is in fact 92 (WOW!) you grab your mobile and look it up. Why do we do this? Because its efficient. Long gone are the days of waiting to go home and power up your computer to find out the answers.
As we can we see from the graph supplied by Statista, mobile phone sales from 2007-2017 have increased dramatically worldwide.
With billions of people owning mobile phones and the vast growth of social media, digital marketers have the advantage of their adverts reaching millions globally in an instant.
A well-established strategy in the marketing world is the use of influencers. Although partnerships between businesses and celebrities have been around for a few years, pressure and competitiveness could change these relationships.
But why are influencers important in the first place?
“The emerging new influencer community is wielding significant power over the perceptions of brands and companies, largely driven by the rapid expansion of social media channels through which influencers communicate.” (Goodman and Booth, 2011)
Celebrity influencers usually have a big following on social media, and these fans are very hardcore and loyal, some even idolise and worship their favourite singer or actor! The urge to be just like them will drive these consumers to buy clothes and accessories that they wear and advertise.
From Emma Stone starring in Revlon adverts to tennis players wearing brands such as Nike and Adidas, seeing celebrities we admire “using” these products can make us want to be like them, and think “well, if it’s good enough for Andy Murray, it’s good enough for me.”
However, there is a flip side. Those who dislike the certain influencer that is associated with a certain brand, may not buy from them. Contestants from the show Love Island often come back into the real world with offers of partnerships for make- up and certain clothes brands. Although these people are a well-known face and can help businesses with sales, some people have negative views on the popular TV show. Of course, the aim of the show is to find “true love” with the chance to win a £50,000 cash prize. But put 11 young, good looking single people in a villa abroad, and things are bound to get heated, with most having sex for the whole nation to see. In fact, Miss Great Britain Zara Holland lost her title two years ago for doing the deed with a fellow contestant, but she wasn’t the only one. Viewers took to Twitter to express their disgust.
“Can’t believe Emma and Terry had above the cover sex in front of the whole villa #wtf #LoveIsland #Disgusting” (Gifford, 2016)
Consumers with negative views towards people who have partnerships with brands will be less likely to buy from these companies.
As I mentioned earlier, influencers have been around for a few years, but what makes this strategy new?
“What has changed over time is how brands are using celebrity endorsements and also what constitutes a celebrity. With YouTubers, Snapchat celebrities and Instagram stars making names for themselves, brands are targeting influencers with large audiences to get their brand messages to the masses.” (Weinstein, 2016)
Influencers on Instagram are also being encouraged to reveal they are being paid for their posts
“According to TechCrunch, Instagram has begun testing a new way for influencers to disclose they ae being paid for a sponsored post” (Wilson, 2017)
Revealing they are in a paid partnership, by adding #ad or linking their profile to the site of the company, can gain consumers’ trust, as most already know they are being paid.
The length of this partnerships is also going to see a change:
“To avoid the pressure of competing with rival brands, marketers will be looking to develop more long-term relationships with key social media influencers in 2018.” (Kiely, 2018)
Overall, I think influencers and paid partnerships are a very effective way of marketing through social media, but good and bad reputations of the influencers can affect if consumers’ will buy the products. Consumers are taking more influence from celebrities, and are eager to be more like the people they admire.
Shopping online is vastly becoming the way to purchase goods: “Approximately 87% of U.K. consumers have bought at least one product online in the last 12 months.” (Kitonyi, 2017) There are several reasons the online shopping market is increasing becoming more popular; the convenience of not having to leave your home being one of them! However, there are some ethical issues…
How many times have you ordered something online, but when it arrives, it doesn’t quite look the same on you? Or thinking how amazing the models look and wishing you could look like that? I personally have lost count. You’ll find when shopping online for clothes, there are tall, skinny, beautiful models wearing the products you can purchase. Of course, they are models, that’s their job, but is it realistic? Seeing these models looking flawless can make consumers think that that’s what it will look like on them. Not only will these clothes not look the same on those purchasing them, there are allegations that the models don’t even look like that themselves.
Many online shopping websites have been accused of photoshopping their models, to make the appear skinnier. Global company Vogue were accused of this just last year, attempting to make plus size model, Ashley Graham, appear thinner: “Gigi Hadid’s arm is shown resting on Ashley Graham’s waist – and critics claim the arm has been photoshopped to lengthen it, in order to make Ms Graham look smaller. They also point out that Ms Graham is the only one of the seven models to be posing with her hand on her thigh.” (Boult, 2017)
This begs the question: Why have a plus size model if you’re trying to make her appear thinner?
Photoshopped images are creating bigger issues than disappointment because the clothes don’t look the same on you. Social media is big influencer, especially on younger people. The pressure to look like these models is increasing and having its own affects: “Seven million girls and women under 25 suffer from eating disorders, because of women seeing ads of how they should be. Eighty percent of women feel worse about themselves after seeing a beauty ad.” (Sites.psu.edu, 2015)
Many ‘celebrities’ have associations with companies to promote their clothing online. People such as Holly Hagan, famous for appearing on Geordie Shore, frequently model clothes for businesses, one being Lasula Boutique, captioning photos with a code for a discount off the website. With a staggering 3.6 million followers on Instagram, she is a popular social media influencer. There is no doubt that she looks amazing in her photos, with many girls wanting to look like her. However, plastic surgery has played a part in the way Holly looks today. Although Holly does not photoshop her images, she has technically photoshopped her body. Comments on her Instagram accuse Holly of photoshopping, in which she always denies. No, she doesn’t photoshop, but that is not how she looks, and isn’t sending a positive message to the young females who idolise her.
There is a theory, however, that suggests all photos are technically unethical: “Wheeler (2002) developed his theory of ‘‘Qualified Expectation of Reality” from three perspectives. In the first perspective, an alteration that violates readers’ expectation is certainly unethical. Stage-managed photos are unethical because, unless being told, readers would assume that activities pictured in the photo happened naturally and were just caught by the photographers (Wheeler, 2002). On the other hand, a photo without manipulation can also be unethical, if its context (environment, placement, captions, and accompanying text, etc.) makes it violate reader’s expectation.” (Yao, Perlmutter and Liu) This theory suggests that even a posed photo can be deemed as a lie. Although, this is extreme and I don’t believe can be in the same sector as photoshopped images.
Despite the negative backlash that can come from photoshopping images, I believe the issue is already beginning to be resolved. Last year, online shop ASOS were praised for not getting rid of stretch marks on their models, and for not altering the image. By not scrapping the so-called flaws on the models, they are sending a positive message and reassuring consumers that having stretch marks is nothing to be ashamed about.
Whilst we are all guilty of photoshopping, whether it be using a filter on a photo or altering your body shape, using the software to manipulate looks to an extreme extent for marketing is wrong. These models, although beautiful, do not represent normal body images, and are putting pressure on young people to look like them. By involving different body shapes, consumers will see someone similar to themselves, and be realistic about what products will look like on them.