Pretty Marketing Doesn’t Just Look Smart

Question: Does it matter if Eva is a four-eyed fraud?

Answer: Yes! It matters to the Internet — and quite a bit, apparently.

Eva Longoria’s trending story emerged yesterday when she was forced to defend herself against lifestyle journalist Jenna Clarke of the Sydney Morning Herald. Clarke accused Eva of not needing to wear glasses while she was a paid spokesperson for Australian eyewear retailer Specsavers. (Seriously, journalists conducting authenticity shaming on celebrity endorsements is a thing now — just go read her article.) Clarke wrote, “…she doesn’t wear spectacles…” about Longoria. Clarke elaborated, “Longoria, who is also a cosmetics ambassador for a cat food, is a serial offender when it comes to selling out in a not so subtle way…unfortunately, this shameful shilling isn’t contained to Hollywood.” Wow, this sounds bad for Eva.

But wait, here’s where it gets good: the journalist got it wrong – way wrong. And Eva took it upon herself to correct her with some brilliant social media jiu-jitsu in an open letter via her Twitter account:

One of the messages here is that if you are going to try to shame a public figure through your controlled media, you had better make sure you have a plan for social media warfare in place. And know that many celebs are far more skilled and proficient at social media PR than any other corporate entity – so you are fighting on their turf.

eva longoriaWhile a very positive trend, the whole truth in endorsement thing is a bit strange for me because I remember a time when no one questioned whether charismatic celebrity spokespeople actually used the products they endorsed.  It didn’t matter that much. It was common, although bizarre, to see professional athletes endorsing their favorite flavor of cigarette. I also remember when size 0 supermodels ravenously ate bacon-wrapped, deep-fried, half-pound hamburgers for breakfast – oh wait…that was just this morning. The point is, most of us are conditioned to assume advertising was and still is fair game for persuasion and emotional manipulation of any type whether we are conscious of it or not. Over the years, the sheer volume of ad messages bombarded us all into submission. Man, how times are a changing.

Forbes wrote a little piece back in 2011 on Authenticity and Celebrity Endorsement, but I don’t think they realized how just how important the issue would become in the modern age of social media engagement. Transparency and authenticity are more important than ever, and marketers should pay close attention and be well prepared.

For marketers, there are a few key takeaways in this story. In social media, marketing, advertising, and PR are now completely intertwined. When you are in the middle of a campaign, prepare for both positive and negative topical divergence. Pay particular attention days or even hours post campaign release, and monitor the media carefully. Brainstorm with your PR agency in advance and be well-prepared to engage swiftly, intelligently, and with complete transparency to make the most out of every opportunity. If you do, you can help your audience see you and your brand in a whole new light. The entire world now knows about a regional Austrailian eyewear chain because of a massive celebrity shaming fail.

What do you think? Are you actively coordinating your marketing with a PR mindset when it comes to social media? Do you spend any time planning to take advantage of runaway interest topics if and when they pop up?