OPINION | As sponsored posts on Instagram become a more common occurrence, how diligent should Instagrammers who work with brands be?
Yesterday, images began appearing on the feeds of several Australian food and lifestyle Instagram accounts, with a focus on Capilano Honey. These sponsored posts (some of which were disclosed as such, some of which weren’t) focused on personal stories – favourite recipe, a childhood memory, happy times and the like. Mention was made in all posts of the fact that Capilano Honey is “100% Australian honey”, and the hashtag #MostTrustedHoney was used.
How do you start your day? I love to start mine with tea with lemon & @capilano_honey ☕️ We grew up with #CapilanoHoney having it on our toast, in our tea and anything else we could squeeze it on! I love the health benefits of having it in my tea each morning and of course love that it is #100%Australian and tastes amazing! As a long time fan I was glad to see them win #mosttrustedhoney recently! How do you use honey in your life?! 🐝🐝🐝
In August this year, Capilano won the Australian Reader’s Digest award for “Most Trusted Honey” and have used this in subsequent marketing to help strengthen the brand’s image. Recently, Capliano has come under fire from various sources for allegedly selling in Australia “toxic honey” imported from China, Mexico and Argentina in Australia. Capilano has fought back against these claims, with the assertion that all Capilano branded honey contains 100% Australian honey and that only some of its other brands (for example Allowrie), when they are blended with imported honey, as disclosed on the label. The purpose of this article isn’t to examine this issue in great detail, and you can find quite a good summary over on Choice.
Back to yesterday’s Instagram sponsored Instagram posts, and one can picture the high level details of the campaign brief and take a good guess as to the purpose of the campaign. Understandably, it didn’t take long for comments referencing Capilano’s recent image woes to be made underneath the photos. The various Instagram users chose different tactics to respond. Some ignored, while some engaged the commentators in conversation. As I write this, only one of the original posts using the hashtag #MostTrustedHoney remains – the rest have been deleted by the Instagrammers. This indicates that most who chose to be involved in this campaign were not aware of the brand image challenges that Capilano have been facing.
If one of the motivations behind this campaign was to help strengthen Capilano’s brand image in the face of recent challenges, is this something that should have been disclosed in the campaign brief? Is it reasonable for a brand to expect an Instagrammer to create a sponsored post that’s authentic without making them aware of something that goes directly to the heart of authenticity?
How much of an obligation do Instagrammers have to their followers to investigate the brands they associate with?