Fake Endorsers

January 22, 2023

If real-life endorsers are problematic, create fake ones!
It should not be surprising that brands have invented their own social media influencers. As I’ve discussed here, there are many “friction points” between brands and social media influencers. Sometimes the influencer insists on controlling the content, sometimes the influencer gets into some kind of trouble that does not reflect well on the brand, sometimes influencers want to charge more than brands want to pay. So, for “brand safety” purposes, inventing a digital influencer, an influencer who resembles a person but has none of the needs or demands of one, is a logical solution. As Tiffany Hsu asked,  “Why hire a celebrity, a supermodel or even a social media influencer to market your product when you can create the ideal brand ambassador from scratch?” 
However, advertisers invented fake endorsers long before there they had access to digital media magic. Back in the patent medicine era, all sorts of “doctors” recommended bottles of “medicine” that promised to cure everything from flu to constipation. Unfortunately, such “medicine” was mostly alcohol, which may have cured some complaints but definitely not the ones advertised.
Dr. D. Jayne's Tonic Vermifuge: The Cure for Colds, Asthma, or any Lung or Throat Disease
Dr. Pierce's Family Medicines
Advertisers then, as now, were aware that many consumers look for authoritative guidance for purchase decisions. During the patent medicine era, it may have been “doctors,” who may or may not have had any medical expertise, or who may have existed only as a brand name. Today, promoting alcohol on TikTok, it may be beautiful young women who want to party—but who exist only in the digital realm. 


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