Celebrities have been forced to adapt their careers over the past year whether they’re in film, TV or music due to the ever-changing government rules. However, it appears to be business as usual for some influencers who have continued travelling abroad for work purposes earning themselves a divisive response along with their salaries.
Earlier this week, former Love Island star Olivia Attwood brazenly called out celebrities who have travelled overseas to warmer climes during the coronavirus pandemic while labelling their trips as ‘work’.
‘There’s a difference between being able to earn money from wherever you are and being on holiday for work. Whenever I go on holiday, I will post content which I can monetise, but I’m still on holiday,’ Olivia stated.
‘I don’t go, “Oh me and [my boyfriend] Brad have had the most amazing week in Portugal, but don’t worry, I was flat out working”, you just sound so stupid,’ she added.
England is currently in its third national lockdown and international travel is prohibited unless given a legally permitted reason to do so such as work.
It seems to be a grey area as many influencers earn money for sponsored social media posts, which might include modelling a bikini or pair of sunglasses on a beach.
However, critics will argue that posting photos on social media isn’t essential work compared to key workers such as doctors, teachers and supermarket employees and brand their trips as holidays.
If these jet-setting influencers were to give the beaches of Dubai a break for a month or two, what’s the true cost of it all?
Joseph Hagan, director of Streamline PR, manages several influencers and recently had a client provide Instagram stories for a Dubai-based sunglasses brand.
Hagan explained to Metro.co.uk: ‘The brand’s mood board involved a luxury sunny location hence why we had to travel to Dubai to fit the brief. Content was also time sensitive so it made sense to travel there to collect the products for the shoot. Social distancing rules were observed during travel and on the shoot.
‘Fees typically depend on the brand and the influencer in question’s following. On average influencers could earn [an estimated] £1,000-£1,800* for a grid post and around £400-800 for an Instagram story. When on holiday there is also the scope for further earnings through hotel and restaurant partnerships.’
Saffron Rizzo, founder of London based PR and Talent Management agency Rizzo PR, agrees with the estimated starting fee of £1,000 for average influencers but noted that those with audiences upwards of a million followers can easily command £5,000 for a single Instagram post.
According to Emily M Austen – CEO of Emerge, a PR agency working with brands such as Spanx, JD Sports and Rayban – syndicated bikini pictures can earn up to £20,000 depending on the location.
Austen added: ‘Posts about fitness kit, swimwear, and “healthy tea” or travel products, will yield between £2,500 and £8,000 per post, depending on engagement and follower numbers.’
Putting aside the staggering fees, how are these trips justifiable during this uncertain period?
Austen explained: ‘Brands are looking to keep consumers interested and energised at a time when everything feels quite monotonous, dark, sad and flat. The idea of reminding consumers of sunshine and holidays, places their products in a more aspirational space, which encourages spending.
‘Celebrities and influencers could rake in up to £50,000 in a coordinated week away. It’s possible they will be receiving discounts or being fully comped for the hotel and flights too.’
Pop culture commentator Nick Ede agreed that influencers are still hot commodities in the advertising world and said: ‘People are still purchasing and the amount of sales that fast fashion brands are seeing are still huge with flash sales and seasonal offers. This kind of marketing isn’t going away and because you can track direct consumer sales it can actually be cost effective.
PR agent Rizzo has actually seen an influx in ‘concierge packages’ being offered to celebrities and influencers recently, which includes organising private excursions, securing tables or beds at sold out beach clubs, booking impossibly hard restaurants and arranging transport for the duration of their stay in exchange for promotion.
Data from Pilot Fish Media shows that a celebrity like Zara McDermott with 1.5 million Instagram followers can probably command around £3,143 for one holiday post; Molly-Mae Hague, with a staggering 5.1 million followers, can cash in on £10,690 for one.
On the flip side, Andy Barr – CEO of digital agency 10 Yetis Digital – believes Covid has ‘negatively affected the rates of top tier influencers just as much as every other sector’ as brands are being more cautious with their budgets.
‘An ex-Love Island contestant high flyer with millions of Instagram followers who could once command around £60,000-£80,000 for a number of posts and “stories” would now be lucky to get £30,000-£40,000,’ he claimed.
Critics argue that regardless of their pay cheque, celebrities and influencers should lead by example and stay at home in order to send the right message to their impressionable audiences.
Pop culture commentator Ede said: ‘I think there has to be some kind of responsibility from an influencer to also sense the tone of a nation.
The people who buy into their particular type of brand are ones who cannot travel to exotic places for “work” and cannot afford to buy products as they may be furloughed or have lost their jobs, [also thinking of] the increase in deaths in the past few weeks.’
Former Celebrity Big Brother star Jess Impiazzi revealed how she’s had to adapt her work and focus on new projects due to the travel restrictions.
The reality star told us: ‘I have moved back in with my mum during the lockdown as she is blind and needs help with shopping etc.
‘For me it’s been a great time to put the finishing touches on my book Silver Linings, which I have been gearing a lot of my social media posts towards the release of. A lot of my social activity is based around mindset and mental health as this is something I have struggled with in the past.
‘With this, I have had quite a few brands with a mental health focus looking to work with me, things like CBD products etc. which I have found really help with anxiety.’
She added: ‘I personally have been staying home, I want the world to recover as fast as it can, I can’t decide what is best for other people as we are all in different circumstances in our own lives.’
The cost of an influencer staying home and missing a sponsored post might be as high as £20,000 but the cost of saving lives during the pandemic is priceless.
** All fees stated here are estimates only.
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