Government bans use of influencers following investigation

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 17 August 2018
One of the images that formed the social media campaign from Lisa Danielle

The Federal Government has banned influencers from all advertising campaigns after it was revealed more than $600,000 of taxpayers money was spent on social media stars.

Assistant Minister for Finance David Coleman has said influencer marketing will no longer be used in any government department, according to the Daily Telegraph.

“The government has recently reviewed the use of social media influencers and determined that they will not be used in future campaigns,” Coleman said in a statement.

The ban comes just weeks after the government’s influencer spend was exposed for the #girlsmakeyourmove campaign.

The Health Department was called into question after it was revealed it had paid hundreds of influencers to post fitness photos on their Instagram accounts, with some understood to get as much as $3000 a post.

Some of the influencers selected had previously been associated with alcohol companies and extreme dieting products and others had previous controversial conduct questioned.

Following the investigation, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt ordered an immediate review into his own department's use of Instagram influencers.

In another blow to the reputation of influencer marketing, the Daily Telegraph reported this week the Australian Defence Force hired two gaming influencers with controversial pasts to make YouTube videos promoting air force recruitment to teenagers.

According to the report, Defence spent $52,500 recruiting Alen Catak, known online by the handle @ChampChong, and Elliott Watkins, known as @Muselk, to create content as part of its influencer marketing strategy.

Catak and Watkins have previously made rape jokes online and other derogatory comments. In 2013, Catak wrote about harassing women writing: “This girl was dressed like a whore & I asked ‘how much’ She replied ‘what’ I was like ‘how much for you’ & she was like ‘u think I’m a slut’.”

In 2016, Watkins uploaded a video to YouTube titled “The RACIST Bastion!”, featuring audio of him laughing when another game player says he is being “raped” in the corner.

The sponsored videos have been removed since the article was posted. Defence Minister Marise Payne said the campaign was “inadequate due diligence” and an insult “to the men and women of the ADF”.

As a result of the backlash, leaders in the influencer space are calling for brands and government departments to take greater care when selecting influencers.

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