17/10/2017 13:24 SAST | Updated 17/10/2017 13:28 SAST

We Need To Talk About Exposure As Payment And Why It's Not A Bankable Currency

"It will not pay bills".

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Minnie Dlamini's management has rubbished claims that the star is at loggerheads with her wedding planner over the payment of her wedding bill.

Both Sunday World and Sunday Sun reported that the newlywed and her husband, Quinton Jones, still owe planner, Mizana Qata of Wellseated Events, over R500,000 allegedly for services rendered at their lavish September wedding.

Read: From Minnie Dlamini To Uzalo's Sthandwa Nzuza And Reggie Nkabinde -- Love Is In The Air In Celebville

According to Sunday World, Dlamini has disputed the bill allegedly saying the company would be paid through exposure.

Shiri Reouveni of Dlamini's management, Capacity Relations, told HuffPost SA that the reports were not only false but were also misleading.
"Minnie has always acted with integrity and ethics in all her business dealings. The issue of her wedding is with no exception. The allegations are false and misleading," she said.

The newspaper reported that Qata confirmed they were in a payment tug-of-war with Dlamini but referred all enquiries to her lawyer Craig Green.

"We have addressed the matter with her lawyers, urging her to make payment arrangements," Green said.

While the alleged feud remains between Qata and the Jones', there is a broader discussion we should be having around exposure as a currency -- its exchange rate in relation to the Rand, whether or not it works and just how far it can be taken.

Also read: How to Stop Working for Exposure aka 'Free'

The "currency" of exposure:

In the creative industry, it has almost become a norm for brands and celebrities to want to pay for services in kind -- freebies and exposure. It is not an uncommon practice.

In the South African industry influencers and artists generally don't make a lot of money which is why expecting them to not charge can be a tricky and unfair exercise.

Blogger and entertainment commentator, Phil Mphela, said there is nothing wrong with people accepting an "alternative" payment over cash.

"Ultimately it boils down to what the brand and the artist would get out of these deals," he said.

But don't overdo it, Mphela added: "For artists, there comes a time where you'd lose credibility by aligning yourself with any brand even when it does not marry or gel with your own personal brand. Fans appreciate authenticity and when your message about a brand is not organic and it is contrived to score points, they will see that and it may be detrimental to your influence thus tainting your earning potential with clients as there would not be an adequate return on your relationship with the brand."

Besides the relationships that exist between brands and influencers, there is also the partnerships that companies and media personalities enter into with service providers on the basis that they would get exposure as payment.

Body positivity activist and blogger Lebo Lion said Influencers serve the same purpose as advertisers would in assisting a brand to get their product or service seen by a wide market in the hopes of making a sale. Where Influencers differ is that they have a more targeted audience who trust what that influencer says, a niche market.

Mphela said while celebrities often come under criticism for wanting to pay in exposure if the conditions of the agreement are clear, there is nothing wrong with it.

"It's not uncommon in fact, it's very prevalent. It's each to their own," he said.

Can exposure pay the bills?

According to Mphela, measuring how much one had made from providing a service for a celebrity is not always easy, but it often works.

"When it comes to influencers, I find that some brands often want to make it a norm to keep giving people freebies instead of payment. They also need to pay rent and feed themselves. Just pay them. It is time brands saw South African celebrities and influencers as professionals who deserve the respect of being remunerated accordingly for their contribution," Mphela said.

As to whether or not people should accept exposure as payment has dominated conversations on social media. Here's what people had to say:

In Part two of this series, we'll be talking to agencies and brands who will unpack what measures inform payment or the lack thereof for influencers. Also, what governs the practice of payment in exposure.