Crikey



Tweet for your supper: the new wave of cash-for-comment

Last night the ABC’s Media Watch spilled the beans on South Australia Tourism paying celebrities to tweet their approval of Kangaroo Island, running in parallel with a poignant advertising campaign.

Celebrity chef Matt Moran, singer Shannon Noll and TV presenter Sophie Faulker were reportedly paid $750 per tweet to spruik the holiday destination. Advertising firm KWP, responsible for connecting SA Tourism with the celebrity tweeters, stressed they “didn’t want the tweet to appear endorsed, rather an organic mention” injected with the celebrity’s “own personality”.

Right.

Celebrity tweeting is fast becoming one of the most valuable commodities on the internet. While the practice is only just finding its feet in Australia, in America sponsored tweets are at the frontier of new advertising.

Companies like Adly and Sponsored Tweets match brands with tweeters based on specifications including maximum cost-per-tweet, minimum followers, location and audience demographic. Advertisers can pick from hundreds of actors, sportspeople, comedians, authors and other celebrities to best reach a target audience.

Adly CEO Arnie Gullov-Singh says the appeal of social media for advertisers are the tangible measures of scale and measurability. He told The Wall Street Journal:

From the brand side we’re saying, don’t pick one celebrity, pick 10. Don’t start off with $2 million, start with $50,000 or $100,000. Don’t run a campaign for six to 12 months; run it for 1 to 60 days. At the simplest level, we’re reducing that risk for both parties.”

But celebrity tweets don’t come cheap. Sponsored Tweets has a full list of its celebrity tweeters and their “cost per tweet”, which makes SA Tourism look like it was giving its tweeters their weekly pocket money. You might want to sit down for this …

Khloe Kardashian charges $US9100 per endorsed tweet to her 14.5 million Twitter followers; Jersey Shore’s Snooki $US7800; and Harry Potter actor Tom Felton, who plays Draco Malfoy, earns a respectable $US5850. Even TV chef Jamie Oliver is in on the party, with an asking price of $3250 per tweet.

To break that down: at $9100 for each tweet, which is limited to 140 characters, Khloe Kardashian is earning $65 per letter. And it doesn’t stop there — some A-listers like Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton don’t disclose their price-per-tweet, hinting that their fee is even higher. The undisputed king of all twits is Charlie Sheen, who is reported to have earned over $100,000 per tweet during the peak of his post-Two And A Half Men meltdown.

So do celebrities have to disclose the source of their “organic-sounding” endorsements?

In 2009 the American Federal Trade Commission amended its advertising standards to cover testimonials and endorsements by celebrities on social media. “Celebrities have a duty to disclose their relationships with advertisers when making endorsements outside the context of traditional ads, such as on talk shows or in social media,” the revisions stated.

Agencies like Sponsored Tweets force all tweeters to adhere to a 100% disclosure policy outlined on their website. However, the most common disclaimer is quite simple: the inclusion of the hashtag “#ad” in the tweet. Three little characters that might easily be overlooked by an avid fan.

In England the debate has flared up recently when the Office of Fair Trading warned Olympic athletes to declare their affiliations to brands on their social networking sites. “Online advertising and marketing practices that do not disclose they include paid for promotions are deceptive under trading laws,” an OFT representative said.

As Media Watch pointed out, SA Tourism decided no such disclosure was necessary.

Josh Richards — managing partner at Switch Digital, which also organises Twitter advertising — says part of what his company does is activate brands on social media using the digital footprints of celebrities.

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Categories: Advertising, Online, People & Ideas, TV & Radio

11 Responses

Comments page: 1 |
  1. So if it’s not viral anymore, is it bacterial, or parasitic marketing?

    by Holden Back on Apr 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm

  2. Why would anybody pay heed to something tweeted by a ‘celebrity’?

    by zut alors on Apr 24, 2012 at 2:04 pm

  3. Anyone dim enough to jump on a plane and head to KI after being ‘inflenced’ by a bunch of hopeless ‘C’ listers is …….?

    by Tom on Apr 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm

  4. Zut, stop reading my mind. It will corrupt you.

    by David Allen on Apr 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm

  5. Slow news day, oh the scandal…

    by mseal10 on Apr 24, 2012 at 3:21 pm

  6. @Zut: You’d pay attention to something tweeted by a politician, maybe?

    These Cabcharge vouchers are excellent value” - Slipper
    “Just say NO” - Abbott
    “How to balance a budget for dummies” - what I’m reading - Swan

    @Tom: KI is great, don’t let the C listers put you off, with their carefully crafted insincerities.

    by Meski on Apr 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm

  7. @HB: Like all marketing, it’s amoebic - and will give you the sh*ts

    by Meski on Apr 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm

  8. Kangaroo Island is beautiful anytime: quiet and peaceful, with unique environmental experiences. Don’t let this marketing #fail put you off a great place to visit. ;)

    (Disclosure: nobody paid me, lent over my shoulder pressing keys or waved horses’ heads at me to make me comment in this manner. I’ve been to Kangaroo Island, loved it and would go again in a heartbeat, if I weren’t housebound by illness. Recommendation: do things before you get sick.)

    by Clytie on Apr 24, 2012 at 4:09 pm

  9. I’m always disappointed to find my favourite celebrity is vacuous and not to be trusted.

    by Son of foro on Apr 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm

  10. Why would anybody pay heed to something tweeted by a ‘celebrity’? Many do Zut! Thats why we are discussing it on Crikey. Edward James

    by Edward James on May 8, 2012 at 2:54 pm

  11. Advertorials in newspapers, endorsements by radio commentator (Laws, for instance) - this is just the latest attempt to gull the gullible.

    by Meski on May 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm

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