The world of influencer marketing has not had a good fortnight - from Marissa Fuch's staged engagement causing huge embarrassment across the industry, to the now viral picture of a sign requiring influencers to pay double for their ice cream - it's time to consider, is this bubble about to burst?
Joe Nicchi's vintage ice cream truck and soft-serve ice cream is undeniably instagrammable but having received an overwhelming number of requests from influencers for free ice cream in return for "exposure", Nicchi has now started charging influencers double. A photo of the sign requiring influencers to pay $8 for their ice cream rather than $4 has gone viral. Small businesses suffering the same repeated requests for freebies have written thanking him for speaking out. In his words, "I don’t think my kid’s school accepts celebrity photos as a form of tuition payment.”
Influencer marketing has been a hugely successful strategy to date because the content is considered by the influencer's self-selecting, trusting and interested audience to be authentic and honest (#millenialbuzzwords). As the Advertising Standards Authority cracks down on disclosure requirements consumers are now far more aware that their favorite Instagram stars are being paid and the sheen of authenticity is beginning to fade. The increasing use of "#notanad" is a notable reaction from many Instagram stars to this trajectory but this may be too little too late.
In Nichhi's words, “If Instagram went away tomorrow, our truck would still survive. I don’t know that your ‘influencer’ business would.” Is it time to consider a new (seemingly) honest and authentic marketing strategy?
Nicchi went viral after posting a sign that said “influencers pay double”, writing on Instagram that he would “never give you a free ice-cream in exchange for a post”.