Top Lessons of Influencer Marketing Failure All Brands Should Avoid

Heidi Yu
Heidi Yu
Jun 3 · 9 min read
Brent Lewin / Getty Images for Pepsi
Brent Lewin / Getty Images for Pepsi
Brent Lewin / Getty Images for Pepsi

Influencer marketing is very trending. Brands are trying to implement it in their marketing strategy in any way. Marketers and brands tend to overlook how much effort influencer marketing demands. There is more to influencer marketing than just paying an influencer to say a few good words about your product. The main problem is that brands see this marketing branch as an easy way to get results. Such a careless approach leads to failures and flops.

The desire to make the most out of influencer marketing quickly can efficiently steer the campaign in the wrong direction. One of the biggest mistakes is choosing the wrong influencer. Collaborating with a wrong influencer can cost the company a lot of money and even some of their loyal customers. But is there a way to prevent this? You can learn about why brands make this mistake and do your best to avoid repeating it. Here are some of the examples of how much money brands spend on wrong influencers.

Influencer Marketing Gone Wrong — Examples

While we often hear stories about successful influencer-brand collaboration, brands are less likely to praise their wrong collabs.

Even though 75% of marketers are employing the influencer marketing strategy, only 36% are satisfied with the results, and 19% openly admitted that their influencer marketing techniques are ineffective. This research by The clearly shows that influencer marketing encounters terrible collaborations.

The following examples of unsuccessful influencer marketing collaborations will show you what happens when a brand chooses a wrong influencer.

Snickers & Katie Price — The case of hijacked profile

One of the earliest controversies in influencer marketing was concerning Snickers and British glamour model Katie Price. Most of you are already familiar with Snickers’ famous “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign. However, even the popular campaigns such as this can take a wrong turn.

In 2012, Snickers decided to take their marketing onto the influencer marketing scene and employ celebrity influencers. The target market was the UK audience, and social media was the key platform.

Along with Amir Khan, Cher Lloyd, and Sir Ian Botham, Snickers teamed up with Katie Price. It is essential to mention that Katie’s social media profiles were reserved for fashion and entertainment posts. That is why her followers were shocked when she started sharing political statements. Many followers thought her account was hacked and used for the promotion of some political views.

Katie Price’s tweets in Snickers’ influencer marketing campaign
Katie Price’s tweets in Snickers’ influencer marketing campaign
Katie Price’s tweets in Snickers’ influencer marketing campaign

Even though Katie did finally state, “You’re not you when you’re hungry” until that post, the followers didn’t believe that it was her who was sharing those posts.

Ultimately, the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency cleared the campaign, and this was their first investigation in influencer marketing. Snickers did pay thousands of dollars to get influencers on board, but at least they didn’t have to pay a fine.

Pepsi & Kendall Jenner — The case of a misunderstood protester

One of the favorite mega-influencers is the older Jenner sister — Kendall. She was named the highest-paid female Instagram influencers for 2019 on the . Her estimated income from influencer marketing is around 15.9 million dollars for that year.

Kendall is the highest-paid female Instagram influencer of 2019. (Credit: Buzz Bingo)
Kendall is the highest-paid female Instagram influencer of 2019. (Credit: Buzz Bingo)
Kendall is the highest-paid female Instagram influencer of 2019. (Credit: )

What could have been a fatal mistake in her career was her commercial with Pepsi. Kendall was one of their influencers, and Pepsi decided to create an appealing ad that can go viral. It did go viral but not in the right way.

The commercial featured a multi-cultural crowd of protesters, and Kendal offered a police officer a can of Pepsi to calm down the situation. Social media exploded after the ad is alive. Users perceive the ad as a claim that the police treatment of African Americans isn’t something that should be taken seriously. People found that Pepsi was somewhat mocking the significant political problems by claiming that it can be solved with a drink. They saw it as diminishing the relevance of fighting for equality.

Some celebrities joined the backlash. , daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., posted on Twitter, “If only Daddy had known about the power of #Pepsi.”

The commercial got pulled out, and Pepsi even released a to calm the storm, “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding. We missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout.”

The estimated ad cost of Pepsi is at least $2 million or around $5 million when you add Kendall’s fee.

Kendall Jenner & Proactiv — The case of questionable honesty

Kendall Jenner is the choice of many brands in influencer marketing, but she isn’t always the right choice.

On January the 7th of 2019, Proactiv made a public announcement that Kendall Jenner was the new face of their brand. There would be nothing wrong with this collaboration if there weren’t the opinions of many that Kendall didn’t use their products.

In the video published on Proactive’s YouTube channel, she shared how Proactiv products helped her to treat her skin. Her followers didn’t support her statements claiming that before this sponsorship, Kendall talked about how her dermatologist helped her with skin problems.

Proactiv doesn’t plan to stop their collaboration, and Jenner didn’t make any statements about the accusations of her dishonesty. While Kendall may be a powerful influencer that can bring Proactiv new customers, the result could be much better if they opted for an influencer who truly has experience with their products. Authenticity is the problem of many sponsored posts, and Proactiv-Jenner collaboration proved that.

Olivia Jade — The case of influencer uncovered

In March 2019, many celebrities were out that they have been paying large amounts of money so that their kids could attend prestigious colleges. The parents aren’t the only ones who got in trouble because their kid’s reputation in the influencer world was also hurt.

If you don’t know Olivia Jade, she is the daughter of Lori Loughlin, a famous influencer, and YouTuber whose videos revolve around fashion and beauty advice. Over the years, she had acquired some profitable collaborations with prominent brands such as Amazon, Dolce & Gabbana, Sephora, TRESemmé, and Marc Jacobs. It comes as no surprise as she has 1.9 million subscribers on YouTube and 1.3 million followers on Instagram.

While her estimated price per post is around $50,000, she had lost some of her brand collabs when the scandal about bribing schools went public. The brands started coming out and stating that they no longer plan to collaborate with Olivia.

said in a statement, “After careful review of recent developments, we have decided to end the Sephora Collection partnership with Olivia Jade, effective immediately.” Lulus co-founder and CEO, Colleen Winter, also made a statement about Olivia, saying the following, “Lulus has not worked with Olivia Jade since August 2018, and we have no plans to do so in the future.” TRESemmé also gave up on sponsored posts with Olivia.

The bribe scandal might have been the trigger that drove away some brands, but there was some indication before that Olivia might not be the perfect student. She said in one of her videos that she doesn’t care about school and that she is only interested in parties. Even though she apologized for her comments in the next video, her attitude towards school was evident.

While the brands couldn’t undo the thousands of dollars they have invested in collaboration with Loughlin’s daughter, they could stop their business partnership and find an influencer that is a better role model.

Scott Disick & Bootea — The case of careless influencer

Social media users are aware that celebrities are paid to promote products, but Scott Disick ensured that it becomes embarrassingly transparent.

He has been collaborating with Bootea, a company that sells health, fitness, and detox products. While their collaboration was never discreet, the brand certainly didn’t expect that their private message gets shared on social media.

Instead of writing “Keeping up with the summer workout routine with my morning @booteauk protein shake,” Scott shared the whole message that Bootea sent him, “Here you go, at 4 pm est, write the below. Caption: Keeping up with the summer workout routine with my morning @booteauk protein shake!”

The failed Bootea Instagram post of Scott Disick.
The failed Bootea Instagram post of Scott Disick.
the failed Bootea Instagram post of Scott Disick

Scott was making from $15,000 to $20,000 per sponsored post when Bootea offered him. The sponsored posts are marked, but followers at least expect to get an authentic description from their beloved celebrity rather than copy and paste the text.

The controversial image got deleted from his Instagram profile, but you can’t hide anything on the Internet. Once it’s out, it is going to get viral.

How to Avoid This

It is hard to say who is to blame in each wrong brand-influencer collaborations. Sometimes the influencer doesn’t know how to create the right post, sometimes the brand’s idea isn’t a good fit with that influencer, or sometimes influencer navigates towards lousy reputation.

As a brand, you might not be able to predict all the risks, but you can prepare for some.

1. Determine your budget

Brands need to be aware that influencer marketing is a risk. It doesn’t mean that if you connect with an influencer that you will increase sales rate or get a ton of new followers.

Calculate how much you can invest in influencer marketing so that it doesn’t hurt your overall predictions for the future. Set aside a specific budget and stay true to your decision.

Don’t get carried away by tens of thousands more followers. It is better to play it safe, especially for brands that are just entering the influencer marketing world.

2. Collaborate with micro-influencers

Logically, influencers with more followers cost more. While you may regret that your budget doesn’t allow you to team up with more popular influencers, this may work to your advantage.

Micro-influencers’ popularity is rapidly growing. Their effectiveness has even attracted the attention of big brands. The reason is that they have a closer relationship with their followers. They are more likely to respond to comments, repost, or like their followers’ posts and comments. Overall, their relationship with followers is more friendly.

A by Stackla showed that only 23% of people find content from celebrities and to be influential. If you opt for influencers with higher engagement, you will increase your chances of making more sales.

3. Choose the right influencer

Choosing the right influencer is what determines the campaign. The influencer will act as your brand ambassador, and you want an influencer that will present your brand in the best light.

SocialBook influencer dashboard
SocialBook influencer dashboard

And our SocialBook team is trying to faster with:

  • updated statistics instead of outdated numbers
  • surfacing the right influencer based on your audience’s demographics
  • estimated price range (you can find an influencer within your budget
  • compare influencers and the one that is most suitable for your brands

4. Aim for honesty

Users can see through the fake sponsored posts. Influencers’ followers are very much acquainted with their life habits and likes, so they’ll spot a dishonest partnership.

Make sure that you find an influencer who likes your products. That should be the basis for the influencer marketing campaign.

Let the influencer to add their style in the post. If you thoroughly take control, the followers might recognize that those weren’t influencer’s words.

Some Final Thoughts

Influencer marketing has many benefits for brands. However, it can also hurt their credibility if they partner up with the wrong influencer. Brands should take the process of choosing an influencer carefully and thoroughly. As you can tell, this choice can determine how social media users perceive your brand. Go for a responsible, engaging, authentic influencer who is willing to put some effort, and you’ll be on the right track.

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