A brief history of celebrities screwing up sponsored Instagram posts
The lucrative world of celebrity sponsored social media posts is a curious and often confusing one - even some of the big names involved don't seem to have a handle on it.
While celebrity endorsements have existed for years, the rise of social media brought with it a whole new range of promotion opportunities, but it’s not always clear when a celebrity is getting paid or when they’re just really keyed up about that new coconut water.
You can usually tell when you see a discount code or a product name popping up in the hashtags, and new guidelines brought in this year by the Advertising Standards Authority state that bloggers must disclose when their posts have been sponsored, typically by using the tags #spon and #ad.
While some write their own captions, the bigger stars are often provided with a couple of sentences they can simply copy and paste along with their dazzlingly well-lit selfie.
It sounds like a relatively easy gig, but the art of spon-con requires a skill not all celebrities have mastered.
We take a look at some of the worst offenders:
The Little Mix star is the latest to join the growing ranks of celebrities carelessly revealing how sponsored posts work. But Jade wasn’t plugging some questionable weight loss tea – it was her band’s own fragrance.
On Tuesday night, Little Mix’s official account shared a photo of a London cab with the caption: “How’s this copy jade: So surreal… we're on the side of a taxi. Who's got their bottle of #LMWISHMAKER? Let us know what you think! Launch event tomorrow.”
The attempt to replicate an authentic voice with emojis is a particular treat here.
Fans inevitably snapped the mistake before the band had a chance to edit, and have left joking comments on the post asking “How’s this copy jade”.
If celebrities can’t even make the effort when they’re hawking their own merch, it doesn’t bode well for the countless online teeth whitening companies out there...
Reality TV stars tend to be the primary source of sponsored posts, so it makes sense that Real Housewife Ramona Singer would also be a shameless proponent of everything from the ubiquitous teeth whitener to coffee creamer.
However, in a post about an “unfiltered and make-up free” campaign a couple of weeks ago, Jezebel caught her blatantly copy-and-pasting an email presumably from the sponsor.
The email included an entire paragraph of explicit directions for what to write, which she managed to lump in along with the rest of the caption.
The caption originally started off: “Here is the draft with some language for the post – if we could have Ramona add something personal in about why she feels confident going makeup free that would be great. Happy to make any changes you’d like. The link to R+F is linked to her personal page on their site and the Instagram is linked to her acct as well.”
Singer was quick to note the mistake, but merely edited the first paragraph out, sadly neglecting to add anything “personal” about this transaction.
We hadn’t expected an A-lister like Naomi to be hawking products on Instagram, but compared to the endless stream of waist trainers and weight loss teas, Adidas is a pretty high-calibre brand to shill for.
Among Naomi’s many and diverse talents is a knack for the now-familiar copy-and-paste, as the supermodel dumped the whole email in her initial caption for a post about her ‘beloved’ new trainers.
“Naomi, So nice to see you in good spirits!!! Could you put something like: Thanks to my friend @gary.aspden and all at adidas - loving these adidas 350 SPZL from the adidas Spezial range @adidasoriginals.”
The caption was again swiftly revised, and she was serving such exquisite face in the photo that we couldn’t possibly stay mad about it.
It’s not entirely clear what Scott Disick does with his days, but between squabbling with Kourtney on Keeping Up With the Kardashians and his many club appearances, he manages to squeeze in plenty of Instagram ads.
An Instagram post from Disick reportedly goes for anything up to $20,000 (€18,200), so you’d expect him to make a little effort to pretend he was actually gunning for his skinny tea - or at least hire an assistant who’ll do a better job of double checking his posts.
In an almost admirable display of laziness, Lord Disick managed to share the captions instructions for his sponsored posts not once but twice.
While the dad-of-three quickly rectified his error and deleted the instructions from his posts, they have thankfully been memorialised in screenshots.
The first time involved a photo of Disick with that spon-con staple, the teeth whiteneing kit, which was accompanied by the caption: “Tag @brightwhitesmile and please tag in caption and on the actual photo.”
You’d think he’d learn from that painful mistake, but he struck again with a post about a weight loss shake. “Here you go, at 4pm est, write the below. Caption: Keeping up with the summer workout routine with my morning @booteauk,” he ‘wrote’.
Disick’s post also has the added bonus of giving us an insight into how these ads are planned down to the exact wording and timing of the post. Give that man a raise!