Hate Snapchat's New Update? So does Kylie Jenner.
From full-page magazine ads to subtler product placements in videos and photos, celebrity spokespeople have long been used to advertise products. We come to associate certain individuals with certain companies—think Danica Patrick and GoDaddy, or Brooke Shields in Calvin Klein—thus strengthening the presence both of product and public figure in popular culture.
A newer phenomenon, though, is celebrities speaking out against products. With the advent of social media, people around the globe are able to communicate their unfiltered ideas to a broad audience at the touch of a fingertip. In particular, social media has provided for a new sort of connection between celebs and their followers.
Many celebrities, such as supermodel Chrissy Teigen and Kylie Jenner, have brought themselves new fame through social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. The sort of frequent, casual conversation with fans these public personalities engage in has served to both sustain their fan bases and bring new followers aboard.
The power of these celebrities’ social media brands has a major downside, though, for companies and products who long depended on Hollywood to be a source of entirely positive publicity for their brands. When celebrities take to Twitter to complain about a product or experience, the mentioned companies tend to feel the heat.
Most recently, the aforementioned Jenner shook Snapchat’s entire net value with just one tweet. In the days prior to her publication, Snapchat published a broadly unpopular update to its eponymous, wildly popular app. Customer frustrations were published all over Twitter, but Jenner adding to the pile-on was what spelled trouble for the relatively new corporation.
“sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad.,” Jenner tweeted in the late afternoon of February 21st, 2018. By the end of Wall Street’s trading on the 22nd, Snapchat’s stock had fallen over $1.3 billion.
Was this entire collapse due to Jenner’s sparsely-worded tweet? Many media sources seemed to think so—hypothesizing she might have been the “de facto head of the New York Stock Exchange—but in reality the landscape is more complicated. For one, Kylie’s tweet reflected the attitude of the average consumer toward the app’s radical redesign, and certainly Kylie was not the only individual to halt usage of the app. Still, to not attribute part of Snapchat’s collapse to her outcry would be to live in denial.
Another company on the other end of celebrity outrage has been Dove. After publishing an ad with clear racial overtones this past October, Dove found itself on the receiving end of fierce criticism from public figures. Gabrielle Union, Anna Paquin, and Keith Boykin all came out against the company in tweets deriding the ad. Almost immediately, Dove was forced to apologize.
It’s become clear that the power celebrities have long had to promote brands can easily be used to the converse as well. The world of marketing is quickly evolving alongside social media, and it is in companies’ best interests to not only continue soliciting celebrity promos of their products but to avoid stars’ ire as well.