Celebrity chef and owner of Sydney’s Aria and Chiswick restaurants, Matt Moran has come under fire for promoting Kangaroo Island to his 20,000-strong Twitter audience, without disclosing that his partnership with the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC).
ABC’s Media Watch received an anonymous email circulated by a publicist which claimed that the South Australian Tourism Commission had been looking for high profile celebrities to tweet about Kangaroo Island, and in return be paid $750 plus GST per tweet.
The email went on to read that the tweets shouldn’t appear endorsed but rather seem like an organic mention, where the celebrity injects his/her own personality into the comment.
The SATC confirmed to Media Watch that is was “using influencers in the promotion of great South Australian products,” and providing three examples of tweets by musician Shannon Noll, TV presenter Sophie Falkiner, and Moran.
The fact that Moran and his fellow celebrity tweeters neglected to disclose their agreement with SATC has caused concern among the public, with many turning to the twittersphere to vent their disappointment.
However, John Baker, managing partner at KWP!, which launched SATC’s recent ad campaign, defended the ‘cash for tweets’ activity.
“What we’ve done is not illegal. Endorsement by celebrities has been going on since advertising began. Paris Hilton walks around with a Gucci handbag, but no one expects her to say I’m being paid to carry this,” Baker told Mumbrella.
“If we were to recruit everyday Aussies, that would be misleading. But we’re using celebrities to start conversations, and celebrities are commercial brands in their own right,” he said.