After reviewing the recent $600,000 worth ‘Girls Make Your Move‘ influencer campaign (#girlsmakeyourmove), the Federal Government of Australia decided it will no longer use influencers in their advertising campaigns for any department whereas the agency responsible for the campaign lost its Government advertising contract, reports Marketing Magazine. Several Australian ‘influencers’ that were employed by the Health Department to encourage young Australian women to take on a physically active hobby had a history of endorsing alcohol and extreme dieting products. In addition, the Australian Defence Force spent over $50,000 recruiting two ‘influencers’ who have been known to have made derogatory comments toward women in past.

Several questions are raised here, (1)  how agencies choose ‘influencers’ for the campaigns, (2) how these scandals affect ‘influencer’ credibility, and (3) will these scandals affect the image of the Government (through brand transgression)? As Forbes accentuates, it’s been shown that average people trust influencers’ opinions nearly as much as our friends’ and families’ opinions. In addition, an influencer’s credibility relies heavily on what they post, as their social media following is their job (or a lucrative side hustle) and in this case, it will most certainly affect their future endorsements. However, it is an agency’s job to ‘do the job’ and assess any risk for the client. Whilst ‘Influencer Marketing Hub’ suggests three tips in selecting ‘influencers’ for a brand’s campaign, namely relevancy, engagement and authenticity, sometimes it is not enough that a selected endorser fits these bits of advice. Brand transgression stands for the violations of consumer-brand relationship-relevant norms, and refer to the breaches of the implicit or explicit rules guiding relationship performance and evaluation (Aaker, Fournier, & Brassel, 2004). In other words, the question is will the negative image of ‘influencers’ spill-over to the Government who hired them? As Professor Ross Steinman (2012) of Widener University (Pensylvania) notes, there are several examples of brand transgressions that have reverberated on a global scale: Toyota Motor Corp. received noteworthy negative publicity after an increase in fatal accidents due to faulty acceleration and braking in their vehicles, whilst Tiger Woods contaminated multiple brands – including Nike, Buick, and Gatorade after his extramarital escapades became known (Agyemang, 2011).

Sources: marketingmag.com.au; Aaker et al. (2004); Agyemang (2011); Steinman (2012); Forbes.com, Influencermarketinghub.com