Is that an ad? Using Celebrities to Push Products.

Celebrities and athletes have millions of social media followers. So, it makes sense that companies will send free products hoping to see it used in a post. From the Kardashians, to Real Housewives, to actors and actresses fans want to look, dress, eat, and workout like their favorite celebrity. But, do celebrities really use those products or are they paid to post and image of themselves with the product?

Recently, the Federal Trade Commission cracked down on celebrities who were paid to promote and item, but did not make it clear to their fans they were doing so (Frier & Townsend, 2016). I noticed this first with Kylie Jenner and her sister Kim and a hair vitamin. Both Instagram accounts showed the women with a bottle of Sugar Bear vitamins and discussion about how great the product is for their hair. The Kardashian and Jenner family were called out because they have hundreds of social media images that are “advertisements”. The family then changed their posts and added #ad to let fans know it is an advertisement.

While the FTC requires celebrities to use #ad, #sp, and #sponsored, does this really protect the customer? And, while those hashtags notify fans they are looking at an advertisement, can they really get mad if a celebrity claims a teatox helps them keep their thin figure? In many ways the consumer needs to also use common sense. These celebrities also have personal trainers and chefs to help them keep their figure. It’s not just the tea.

But, giving celebrities free products or even paying them to promote the product on social media is a great marketing tool to reach millennials.


Frier, S. & Townsend, M. (2016). FTC to crackdown on paid celebrity posts that aren’t clear ads. Bloomberg Technology [online]. Retrieved from

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One Response to Is that an ad? Using Celebrities to Push Products.

  1. Thea says:

    As an influencer marketing nerd, I wholeheartedly agree that this strategy is crucial to reaching the Millennial demographic. It all boils down to trust. Millennials are the biggest cynics and don’t take things at face value. They won’t even think to open their wallet if they feel that a product, company or its ambassador is disingenuous or just flat out phony. In our last live session with Brandon, he discussed the strategy behind the selection of an Influencer. Choosing the correct Influencer, a person who aligns with a brand in every way, can do wonders for a brand’s equity and credibility. It won’t hurt their sales either.

    Thank you and great job!