20/05/2018 08:56 SAST | Updated 20/05/2018 10:20 SAST

Why I'm Done With The Kardashians (And 'Influencers' In General)

I am f*cking done with the Kardashians.

I am f*cking done with the Kardashians.

Not that I was ever an avid fan. I've never watched the show but I suppose I can appreciate the family's meteoric rise to fame thanks to a talent of creating business opportunities out of pretty much anything... lipstick, fashion lines, hair vitamins, exercise DVDs, ahem, "films"...

But the latest Kardashian endorsement takes the cake. Well actually, it does the opposite of that.

A couple of days ago KKW endorsed "Appetite Suppressant Lollipops, you guuuuys!" Offering 50 percent discount to her millions of followers, many of them young women, many of them who might just buy anything she posts about.

It quite literally, denies the cake.

How many of her followers are struggling with low self-image, or more worryingly, eating disorders? How many of her followers believe if they do whatever KKW tells them they will look like her, despite the fact she probably has round-the-clock nutritionists, makeup artists and personal trainers?

How many of her followers believe that success is actually achieving the perfect contour/concave stomach/shiny hair (extensions), rather than, oh I don't know, the content of their character, or life achievements, or friends and relationships?

I'm over it. I'm over seeing so-called 'influencers' filling up my feed because "OH MY GOD YOU GUYS CHARCOAL TOOTHPASTE!"

I have friends who work in fashion PR, who say their lives have been made miserable by Instagram stars whose sole definition of success is how many likes and followers they have. It's mind-boggling.

It's product placement at its absolute laziest. And at its worst, it's dangerous. KKW might have taken the post down after the backlash, but the damage has already been done.

When I first saw the post, thanks to the amazing Jameela Jamil, it had garnered nearly 1.5-million "likes". The company in question advertises sweets that stop you from eating, for f*ck's sake (an oxymoron in itself, with emphasis on the moron). As if they are going to care about negative backlash — they just care about all the free PR they are getting.

I'm not saying all influencer marketing activity is bad. It's the celeb-driven stuff that is solely focussed on selling stuff, regardless of whether it's morally right — or even something that they believe in or even use in real life. For so many, it's just a big fat paycheque and people still don't get that, however much they #spon a post, and this shit sells in droves. Just look at the Fyre Festival disaster, for a perfect example of celebs endorsing something without any real knowledge or care about what they are posting about.

There is a different way of doing it that isn't lazy, and can be advertising at its most creative.

Adidas nailed it with "Glitch" — creating a new football boot with and for a young audience that wanted to get involved in the brand. They "influenced" everything, from the name to the launch to the design. And after the launch, these same "influencers" formed part of the brand and customer service team, helping other people interested in the product to get their hands on it in cities around the world. People went nuts for it. Rather than using the "influence" of celeb footballers, Adidas shunned mainstream conventions and went to the fans. More than about how many followers and likes people had — it was actually quite a tight-knit community that grew from the pitch up, for the love of the game and the love of the brand.

But that type of creativity and meaning in influencer marketing is few and far between.

The backlash against the KKW post is, I hope, the start of brands thinking a little more carefully about what they are selling and how they are doing it. Sure — getting someone famous with millions of followers to post about your product might get some sales in the short term, but more and more people are asking a bit more from the products they buy and brands they interact with. Sustainability, ethics, not bloody "here's something that means you don't have to eat. You know, that thing you need to do to continue living. BUY IT PLEASE".


Following the KKW post and ranting about it furiously while feeling utterly depressed with what the world has come to, I stumbled across a page called "I weigh" (again by Jameela Jamil) who has regularly spoken out about toxic ads sent out by celebs to their followers on social media.

It was another response to a Kardashian post, that ranked the family in terms of how much they weigh in kilograms. People were responding by "weighing" themselves in terms of their achievements, their relationships, their families and friends, their battles and survival stories. Nothing about looks, nothing about flat tummies, nothing about charcoal toothpaste.

People are more than that. And they deserve better from brands. And they definitely deserve better than the f*cking Kardashians.