Unilever launches campaign aimed at fake followers to boost transparency

Unilever has launched a campaign against fake followers in a bid to boost transparency in the murky world of product influencers. (AFP)
Updated 19 June 2018
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Unilever launches campaign aimed at fake followers to boost transparency

LONDON: Unilever has launched a campaign against fake followers in a bid to boost transparency in the murky world of product influencers.
The world’s second largest advertiser announced the cutting of ties with influencers who buy followers, a practice thought to be widespread in the Gulf.
With $7 billion in marketing and brand investment at its disposal, its stand against influencers purchasing followers could have a big impact on media buying in the Middle East.
Unilever Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed said: “We need to take urgent action now to rebuild trust before it’s gone forever.”
He said this would be done through cleaning up the influencer ecosystem by removing misleading engagement; making brands and
influencers more aware of the use of dishonest practices and improving transparency from social platforms to help brands measure impact.
Buying influencers has become commonplace, with about one in four influencers in the region making use of bots, Natasha Hatherall-Shawe, founder and managing director of TishTash Marketing & Public Relations, told Arab News in March.
“It’s pretty obvious who’s using these bots — log on to Instagram at 3 a.m. and you can see accounts very active at this time, and I don’t think it’s a case of insomnia,” she said.
At this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, Keith Weed will also convene a group to include the World Federation of Advertisers, Instagram and Richard Edelman with the aim of increasing transparency and integrity in the influencer space.
The announcement comes as both Unilever and Procter & Gamble audit their advertising spend and their relationships with agencies.
Peter Storck, co-founder of influencer marketing measurement firm Points North Group, told Reuters that all of the companies he has analyzed have fallen prey to bots, including Unilever.
Besides misleading consumers, he said that bots waste money, since brands are spending to reach non-existent consumers.


News anchors join New Zealand women wearing headscarves for mosque attack victims

Updated 22 March 2019
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News anchors join New Zealand women wearing headscarves for mosque attack victims

  • The AM Show news anchor Amanda Gillies said the gesture 'shows we are united'
  • Newsreaders began broadcasts with Islamic greetings

CHRISTCHURCH: News anchors in New Zealand joined women across the country in wearing headscarves as a show of solidarity on Friday for the victims of last week’s mosques shooting. 

The newsreaders covering the memorial events for the 50 people killed by a white supremacist at two mosques in Christchurch, began broadcasts with Islamic greetings.

They included The AM Show news anchor Amanda Gillies, who said she agonized over whether to cover her hair with a peach-colored scarf.

"There's no way a week ago that I would have, because I would have thought it would have been deemed inappropriate, not right, that I was insulting the Muslim community," Gillies said.

"I'll be honest - I did angst over it today whether I should wear it, because I didn't want to be inappropriate or offend the Muslim community. But I know that they are so welcoming and accepting of it, and I know that a lot of women will wear it today because it just shows that we are united - the solidarity is there, the love and support is there."

Elsewhere, women across the country wore hijabs on an emotional day when the shocked  nation came together to remember those killed.

 A journalist wearing a headscarf as tribute to the victims of the mosque attacks uses her phone before Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand March 22, 2019. (Reuters)

Rafaela Stoakes, a 32-year-old mother of two, said wearing the Islamic head covering gave her an insight into what it means to stand out and feel part of the minority.

On Friday morning she covered all but a few locks of her dark chestnut-coloured hair in a loose red and white scarf, crossed neatly beneath her chin and tucked into a black hiking jacket.

She was one of many women embracing #HeadScarfforHarmony, to make a stand against the hate espoused by the Australian man who killed dozens of worshippers.

Headscarves were also worn as a mark of respect by policewomen and non-Muslim volunteers directing the crowds around the site in Christchurch holding communal prayers on Friday.

Many were wearing a headscarf for the first time.

"It is amazing how different I felt for the short time I was out this morning," Stoakes told AFP.

"There were a lot of confused looks and some slightly aggressive ones," she said.

"I did feel a sense of pride to honour my Muslim friends, but I also felt very vulnerable and alone as I was the only person wearing one."

"It must take a lot of courage to do this on a daily basis."

The gesture caught on nationwide -- in offices, schools and on the streets -- as well as at the ceremonies held in Christchurch to mark one week since the killings at the hands of a self-avowed white supremacist.

Women flooded Twitter, Facebook and other social media -- which played a key role in allowing the gunman to spread his message -- with their images.

Kate Mills Workman, a 19-year-old student from Wellington, posted a selfie on Twitter wearing a green headscarf.

"If I could I would be attending the mosque and standing outside to show my support for my Muslim whanau but I've got lectures and I can't really skip them," she told AFP, using a Maori language term for extended family.

"Obviously this is all spurred on by the terrible tragedy in Christchurch, but it's also a way of showing that any form of harassment or bigotry based on a symbol of religion is never okay," she added.

"As New Zealanders, we have to make a really strong stand."

Although the headscarf has been the subject of contentious debate over gender rights in the Islamic world, for Stoakes the day has been a lesson in how pious Muslim women often do not have the option to melt away into the background when they feel vulnerable.

"We can nod and pretend to agree with people who we are afraid of, or plead ignorance if we feel in danger of confrontation," she said.

"But a Muslim is just right out there. Like a bullseye. Their hijabs and clothing speak before they do."