I'm Sellin' It - The Rise of Instagram Advertising | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

I’m Sellin’ It – The Rise of Instagram Advertising

Life and Style Writer, Caitlin Steele discusses the backlash of Love Island winners Jack Fincham and Dani Dyers for advertising McDonalds on Instagram

Jack Fincham and Dani Dyer, winners of this 2018's Love Island, were criticized recently for advertising McDonalds on Instagram. Fans and general users alike were quick to condemn the couple for their decision, with several expressing disappointment in their eagerness to promote an undeniably unhealthy product for monetary gain. Their collective Instagram reach is considerable, with Dani boasting 3.3 million followers, and Jack 2.6 million. However, the backlash clearly hasn’t impacted the couple, as they’ve since both posted another advert for JoyFills (a new, and similarly unhealthy, biscuit brand) on their respective accounts. This subsequent advert has caused far less controversy, with the comments reverting back to the fawning adoration they have grown used to. Why is it then, that the McDonalds advert caused so much backlash?

It is interesting that the problem seemed to lie within the brand they advertised, rather than the act of advertising. Though the comments slammed both choice and brand, it is the first of their posts to elicit this magnitude of response. Other adverts, from both Fincham and Dyer, the other Love Islanders, and indeed the majority of Instagram ‘influencers’ nowadays, tend to slip more under the radar.

McDonalds seems a good fit for the winning pair, whose down to Earth personas (arguably) clinched their win
McDonalds seems a good fit for the winning pair, whose down to Earth personas (arguably) clinched their win. What other multi-billion fast food restaurant can us every day folk relate to more than the Golden Arches? Jack and Dani probably love a trip to Maccies, even though they’re famous now. They’re just like us, after all. Aren’t they? Perhaps the problem was that we felt cheated, scammed by those we considered like us. We’ve all been there, desperately in need of a takeaway, just like Jack and Dani – but we haven’t managed to make any money of it, have we? Perhaps then it is because it is a more blatant advert than the lies we are usually fed. We’re living in a world where an advert is only successful if we can pretend it’s not an advert, and that we made the sole decision to buy the teeth whitening kit/flat tummy tea/insert other morally ambiguous product here.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with Fincham and Dyer advertising McDonalds. You’d have to have been living under a rock since 1973 to be unaware of its monumental presence. They certainly aren’t introducing us to anything new. McDonalds has a following of 3.3 million on Instagram, the same considerable reach as Dyer. What seems surely more dangerous are the advertisements of appetite suppressants, skinny teas and other enhancements that we would be unaware of if it were not for the likes of Kim Kardashian introducing us to them. Kardashian has 120 million followers, a different league to the influence of any Love Island winner. Her and her sisters have no qualms about advertising, selling anything from skinny tummy tea to hair gummies. The products they introduce to their impressionable audience are products designed to fill a needless gap in the market, and yet, any backlash does little to quell their popularity, or indeed, the adverts themselves. Many argue that celebrities and influencers should be more upfront about what is and isn’t an advert – however, this is hard to do when the lines are so blurred. They themselves are a product, whose lifestyle the general public eagerly consumes; is it any surprise then, that they are actively creating more products from which to generate revenue.

We’re living in a world where an advert is only successful if we can pretend it’s not an advert

Love Island itself was criticized for the adverts that played in the break during the 2018 series. One such advertiser was MYA Cosmetic Surgery, offering breast enlargements, tummy tucks and other surgeries. The adverts only played on the show’s on-demand services, and none of the adverts were shown on TV. Simon Stevens, on the Andrew Marr Show, raised his concerns, stating the images played into a set of pressures around body image.

There is an element of moral ambiguity and guilty pleasure to the whole show. We watch a rotating selection of those who fit society’s narrow mould of beauty for 8 weeks, knowing full well that when they leave, they’ll be thousands of followers up on Instagram and ready to advertise teeth whitening gel before the week is up. There has to be a certain suspension of disbelief – a sacrifice of realism for the sake of enjoyment. We know we’re not watching it because we want to be them; we’re watching knowing the paths our lives follow will never cross. This suspension has to extend to when the show is over, and we’re left only with their Instagram accounts.

If you want an occasional McDonalds, go right ahead – you’ve been doing it long before Jack and Dani ever graced our screens.



Published

13th January 2019 at 7:00 am

Last Updated

12th January 2019 at 10:40 pm



Images from

Mohamed Hassan



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