Unilever to cut ties with digital influencers

MUMBAI: While brands continue to engage in paid promotions through influencer marketing, consumer goods giant Unilever's had enough. The world's second biggest advertiser has decided to stop this practice to promote its products. Companies tend to rely on influencers to generate a buzz around their products on social media. But more often than not, followers of these influencers aren't real people but fake accounts and bots.

Hence, Unilever, maker of Sunsilk shampoo, Dove and Lipton tea, wants to help make advertising more transparent and will cut ties with all digital influencers. Unilever spent US $8.9 billion on marketing last year.

The company’s  chief marketing officer Keith Weed is said to pledge today at the on-going Cannes Lions that Unilever will never buy followers or work with influencers who buy followers.

“Trust comes on foot and leaves on horseback, and we could very quickly see the whole influencer space be undermined. There are lots of great influencers out there, but there are a few bad apples spoiling the barrel and the trouble is, everyone goes down once the trust is undermined,” Weed told Reuters. 

It was only recently that Unilever threatened Facebook and Google that it will withdraw its advertising on the social media platforms if they fail to remove content that creates division in the society and promotes hate. Weed had said at the time, “As one of the largest advertisers in the world, we cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online.”

The move also comes as Unilever and Procter & Gamble are in the process of auditing their ad spends and agency relationship to function more efficiently as the industry sale for consumer packed goods has witnessed a drop. To cut down on the advertising and marketing costs, these multinational brands are now working with fewer agencies while creating some of the campaigns in-house rather than spending millions on an ad agency. 

According to a report by Rakuten Marketing, some UK advertisers were willing to pay US$100,000 to celebrity influencers for a single Facebook post whereas a micro influencer with followers as low as 10,0000 earns as much as 15000 pounds for a single post.

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