Why Banning Influencers Who Edit Their Photos Is A Slippery Slope

Good evening! I hope your Friday has been going well and you’re starting to enjoy your weekend!

Today’s Edition:

  • Ogilvy will no longer work with influencers who edit their faces or bodies in photos

  • TikTok introduces a new educational program to help creative agencies become experts

  • Instagram creators say Reels payouts have decreased significantly

Ogilvy Will No Longer Work With Influencers Who Edit Their Faces Or Bodies In Photos

Ogilvy UK has announced it will no longer work with influencers who distort or retouch their bodies or faces in the content they share on behalf of brands. The agency's position is part of its mission to combat the systematic mental health harms caused by social media.

How The Policy Will Work

Ogilvy plans to roll this policy out in two different phases. For phase one, it will consult with brands and creators for feedback on the policy, while it will implement the ban during phase two with the goal to end all edited content by December.

To make this all work, Ogilvy is committing to the following:

  • It will not work with any influencers who retouch their skin or bodies except for contrast or brightness edits

  • It will leverage technology to detect when images have been edited

  • It will use campaign briefs that allow for more flexibility

Is It The Right Approach?

As expected, Ogilvy’s approach is already receiving mixed reactions across social media. There are people that think it’s exactly what is needed for the influencer marketing industry and those who don’t agree with it at all. I personally fall somewhere in the middle. There’s no denying the negative impact that social media can have on people, especially on youth. Influencers and their perfectly curated feeds definitely share some of the blame due to the power that they have. But, taking a black and white approach in banning influencers that alter their bodies in their photos doesn’t feel like the right move for something that is as nuanced as this.

There’s a reason why influencers, women in particular, might alter their photos— they face a great deal of pressure to be perfect. Social media has become an extension of people’s identities. Ogilvy essentially telling influencers what they can or can’t do with photos of themselves is a slippery slope.

This approach might make an impact in eliminating the agency and its clients from running campaigns with these types of influencers, but it doesn’t get to the root of why people edit their bodies in photos. If something like this is going to be implemented, it also should be implemented across other relevant areas such as professional models. Magazines have a long history of editing the models that appear on their covers or even models who appear in brand photoshoots. Additionally, this approach should also apply to men who are influencers.

A Better Approach

Ogilvy has the right intentions, but their approach likely isn’t realistic or practical. Yes, it can leverage technology to detect photos that have been edited, but there are always going to be scenarios when the technology is inaccurate, leading to influencers missing out on opportunities and causing more harm.

Even more important is educating people, especially the younger generation on what social media is and what social media isn’t. Whenever someone edits their faces or bodies to be thinner isn’t necessarily the issue. It’s the way that it makes people feel. If there’s more education on how social media isn’t always a reflection of real life, then people may be able to better understand that everything they see shouldn’t be interpreted as true. On a similar note, there should also be a lot more discussion on why people may feel the need to edit their photos and come off as perfect or look their best. Most people wouldn’t take these measures if there wasn't society’s pressure to be perfect.

Although I don’t think the outright ban approach is the right approach, I do think that the UK’s Digitally Altered Body Image Bill, which if passed, would require influencers to disclose edited content, could be an effective solution. It would still allow people to show up however they want to on social media, while also providing transparency and helping to alleviate some of the negative feelings that perfect-looking photos may cause users.

Industry News

TikTok introduced a new education program for creative agencies. The newly launched Creative Agency Partnerships (CAP) University is designed to help creative agencies become TikTok experts by taking a comprehensive curriculum on planning, concept, and activating on TikTok.

Through live webinar sessions starting on April 19th, CAP University's first "semester" includes topics such as TikTok101, Briefing To Pitching, Concepting & Creating For TikTok, Trends & Music Licensing, and Collaborating with Creators. Live office hours will follow each webinar session, where enrollees can ask the CAP team specific questions.

TikTok has done a great job educating its users, including marketers and creators, as its profile grows. By providing blog posts, guides, best practices, live webinars, videos-on-demand, and other resources, the platform has put substantial efforts into helping users leverage the platform to connect with the thriving TikTok community.

TikTok upping its educational resources for marketers through CAP University is a strategic move. By arming marketers with knowledge and education, they will be better equipped to pitch TikTok as a solution to their client's needs.

Creators are saying Instagram Reels payouts have significantly decreased. According to the Financial Times, several creators have reported that payouts from the Reels Play Bonus Program are lower than before. Payments previously ranged from $600 to $35,000, but creators are reporting a 70% decrease in payment and a higher threshold for meeting payment targets. For instance, one creator noted they needed 58 million views per month to earn a bonus payment of $35,000, but it has now increased to 359 million views per month for the same payment.

Along with new features and tools, creator funds and payout programs have been the primary means social media platforms have used to entice creators. Initiatives of this sort generate press headlines and encourage creators to invest time, but they are also problematic. They are effective at capturing creator attention. However, once payments change or creators realize that they aren’t as lucrative, they typically push back.

Earlier this year, TikTok creators became upset about the platform’s payment model that dished out small payments, despite creators generating millions and millions of views. Instagram is facing a similar scenario with many creators being disappointed in the payment changes.

Creator funds and payout programs aren't going anywhere soon, but their impact is no longer what it was when they started.

Twitter is experimenting with new ad formats. The company is piloting Interactive Text, Product Explorer, and Collection Ads in an effort to deliver value for advertisers and consumers alike. Brands such as Oreo, Bud Light, Wendy's, New Balance, Lexus, and Bose are currently testing them.

Below is a breakdown of each of the formats:

  • Interactive Text: This text-oriented ad format allows advertisers to include up to three words in their ad copy in a larger, bolder font than Twitter's standard font. When clicked, it takes consumers to the brand's landing page.

  • Product Explorer: Twitter advertisers can showcase their products in 3D for the first time. Users can swipe and rotate products to see different angles of the product. In addition, they can click through to learn more about the product or purchase it.

  • Collection Ads: Advertisers can display a hero image and up to five smaller thumbnail images below it with this format. The hero image is static, but consumers can scroll horizontally through thumbnails. Each thumbnail can drive consumers to different websites or product pages.

This trio of ad formats is an upgrade from Twitter's original suite of ad products. They enable advertisers to reach consumers more creatively and innovatively. With options to leverage interactive text, 3D imagery, and multi image-collections, marketers can choose the best formats for their brand and products to reach their target consumers.

Unlike Instagram and TikTok, Twitter doesn’t have a dedicated ad format for helping brands amplify influencer content. With its push for creators though, that could change in the near future. For the time being, Collection Ads could be an effective way for brands to amplify content from their influencer partners. As an example, a fashion brand could take creator assets and use them as hero and thumbnail images as well as drive traffic to respective product pages based on items featured in content.

Logitech launched its Creator Society initiative. It’s part of the company's Together We Create campaign. This campaign focuses on celebrating creators, fostering a community of creators that elevates them, and driving change for a more diverse and inclusive future powered by creators.

Creator Society is an invite-only global community of creators that will work with the company's dedicated creator division. Spanning across fashion, dancing, podcasting, tech, comedy, and more, this group of creators will serve as brand ambassadors and be the brand's creator voices. In addition, they will co-develop programs that center on the needs of creators, including gear, growth, and mental health.

In recent weeks, many companies including Hubspot and Visa unveiled their own creator programs. Logitech joins in with Creator Society. Rather than trying to help specific creators grow and monetize like recent creator programs, Logitech looks to have a bigger impact on the creator community. With the help of established creators in different industries and across social media channels, the company is working with them to understand their needs, ranging from what equipment they need to publish their content to more personal topics like how to handle burnout.

As opposed to traditional influencer marketing models that rely on transactional relationships, Logitech's approach of co-creation with influencers replicates a growing trend of brands and creators working together to drive value.

What I’m Reading

  • ‘Out of the innovation bucket’: TikTok’s share of dollars grows the further it goes down the marketing funnel (Digiday)

  • Outside wants its new NFT marketplace to be the ‘the anti-metaverse’ (Fast Company)

  • Black Instagram creators want more than tags after decades of being invisible (Jezebel)

  • Adidas NIL deal is a long time coming, but devil is in the details (On3)

  • ‘Shopping reinvented’: L’Oréal eyes impulse sales on TikTok (Modern Retail)