Influencers tour Shein factory

111 | How impartial can creators really be?

Issue #111 | Your reading time this week is 3 mins. 45 secs.

Welcome back to the Creator Briefing. This week we look at the:

  • Grimace Shake absurdist comedy meme and ask whether ‘it’s all gravy’ for the Golden Arches.

  • Influencer press trip to a Shein factory and consider how factual the resulting content is.

  • AiMCO - the Australian Influencer Marketing Council has launched an accredited training course

  • SixSeven Agency launches the Creator Club.

If you were forwarded this newsletter, sign up here to get your own weekly copy. And let me know what you think of this week’s edition in the poll a the end.

TikTok trend: Happy Birthday Grimace

The “Grimace Shake” has blown up on TikTok after McDonald’s put the purple milkshake back on its menus ‘whilst stocks last’ and TikTokkers turned the drink into an absurdist comedy meme.

TikToks carrying the hashtag #grimaceshake have so far been viewed 570.2m times (at the time of writing -- noon, June 28).

What’s the set up? Grimace Shake videos typically start with someone taking a sip of the milkshake. Then, cut to the same person post sip as if they’ve OD’d or been poisoned. Many of the videos are hilarious. Some have a Blair Witch Project vibe.

All good for the Golden Arches? Yes and no. Half-a-billion views of videos wishing Ronald McDonald’s best friend, Grimace, a happy birthday must be good for business. Playing along with the meme makes Macky Ds look relatable to its core market, too. But, does the fast-food chain want to be associated with poisoned food or drug overdose, no matter how absurdist the comedy?

Influence is King

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9/10 kids watch YouTube

9-in-10 US kids aged 12 and under access YouTube content compared with just 4-in-10 who watch TikTok. These are the latest findings from Precise TV in its report: U.S. Precise Advertiser Report: Kids (PARK).

When asked where they recently viewed content 86% said YouTube, 63% said video on demand, 50% said gaming and 38% said TikTok.

When asked which app they favored most over all other social media apps, 43% of kids said YouTube, while just 21% favored TikTok.

Other key stats from the survey:

  • Kids ad recall on YouTube is x2 higher than broadcast TV

  • Two thirds of parents get inspiration for things to buy when they see their child’s reactions to ads

  • 7-in-10 kids aged 2-12 have bought or asked for something they have seen advertised on TikTok

METHODOLOGY 2,000 children in the US aged 2-12 and their parents were surveyed online in March and April 2023.

Ofcom launches research pilots for understanding children's online experiences

Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, has piloted different methodologies designed to measure children’s exposure to potentially harmful online content.

It’s hoped learnings from these pilots will help the regulator better understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of these different approaches and which could be valuable tools to use alongside existing research and intelligence gathering.

SevenSix agency launches Creator Club

This week SevenSix Agency launched Creator Club. It’s a refresh of the Influencer Network the agency launched in 2020.

Free of charge for influencers, the Creator Club is aimed at those starting out on their career or looking to fine-tune their creator strategy.

The club offers access to downloadable resources including content calendars, toolkits, invoice templates, ASA guideline updates and media kit templates.

“The network started off as a passion project for us” explained Charlotte Stavrou, SevenSix agency founder to me via text continuing “but as time went on and more and more brands got in touch we realised it is in fact a key offering for us that needed to be formalised.

“This year we have created a new brand identity and have begun to onboard a series of brands and agencies to use the Creator Club for their influencer campaign needs.”

The Creator Club includes access to a weekly newsletter covering industry news updates and a new agony aunt section where Stavrou, answers creators’ burning questions.

Aussie trade body launches training course

AiMCO - The Australian Influencer Marketing Council has launched a six-module, accredited online training course called AiMCO Accreditation.

The initiative has kicked off with an entry-level course. The Influencer Marketing Essentials six-week course is aimed at practitioners with up to five years industry experience.

AiMCO hopes the initiative will set a consistent base level of knowledge across the sector. Josanne Ryan CEO of AiMCO told me: “We aim for it to be the benchmark for what constitutes a recognised level of understanding of influencer marketing and how it can deliver to brand marketing objectives.”

Shein factory tours: Influencers under fire for ‘misleading’ content

Shein just took a group of US creators to one of its 6,000 factories in China. So far, so mundane. The press trip format is stock-in-trade within our industry. However, these creators have since come under attack for posting content about working conditions at the firm.

The upbeat, pro-Shein content runs contra to findings explored in Iman Amrani’s Channel 4 2022 documentary: Inside the Shein machine.

“I was really excited and impressed to see the working conditions,” enthused Dani Carbonari, one creator on the recent press trip.

“My biggest takeaway from this trip is to be an independent thinker” says Carbonari in a now deleted TikTok.

Carbonari was part of the creator group which included Destene Sudduth, Aujené, Fernanda Stephany Campuzano, Kenya Freeman, and Marina Saavedra. All the resulting content from the group shared a similar, positive tone.

Were Carbonari and the other creators gulled by Shein? Or was the trip as “authentic” as they believed? Or perhaps Cabonari et al were complicit in knowingly deceiving social media users with pro-Shein propaganda?

Last week we discussed Reuters Institute Digital News Report which concluded that half of us turns to influencers for mainstream news stories ahead of journalists across TikTok (55% vs 33%), Snapchat (55% vs 36%), and Instagram (52% vs 42%).

The figures, whilst a boon for the creator economy, do throw up questions around disinformation and misinformation. Good decision-making depends on people having reliable, accurate facts placed before them within a meaningful context.

The skill of engaging storytelling binds the influencer to the journalist. But, journalism is storytelling with a purpose accomplished through assembling and verifying facts to produce a “functional truth.”

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