September 29, 2020 / Digital

There’s No Such Thing As A Free Ad: Influencers & COVID

The Government’s recent comments about the potential of using influencers to communicate key COVID-19 safety measures and updates to Gen Z has sparked debate across Ireland. Should Influencers be used? Should they be paid? How much should they be paid? Will it work? Will Gen Z not know the influencer was paid and think it is inauthentic?

Pluto Account Manager, Maeve Acheson even weighed in on the subject on RTE Radio 1’s Drive Time with Phillip Boucher Hayes. You can check out the full discussion here where Maeve chatted to Phillip alongside TD Neil Richmond and YouTuber Clisare.

To cut to the chase, social media is the obvious channel to reach Gen Z. 55% of Gen Z use their smartphone a staggering 5+ hours per day, and very few consumer traditional media like TV and print.

If you’re using social media to promote your campaign, it’s a no-brainer for influencers to be apart of your strategy.

With the massive growth of influencer marketing, there has been a lot of discussion around the credibility of the influencers endorsements and the actual ROI of the activity. Some think,  what’s paid for “won’t work”.



It’s time this myth was debunked.

Using influencers in any campaign is not about trying to “trick” the viewer into believing something or doing something. It’s about getting the key message to the right audience through a channel they engage with and listen to.

As humans, we process about 105,000 words or “messages” a day through verbal communication, tv, radio, social media, books, magazines – the list goes on. With this in mind, consider the importance of how key COVID-19 messaging is presented to any audience. Over 100,000 messages are in competition for our attention daily, which is why important messages need to be delivered in an engaging, memorable way.

The beauty of working with an online content creator or “influencer” for want of a better word, is that they know their audience. They know what their audience is interested in, they know what they generally engage with or disengage with and as a result, they know how best to communicate a key message to their audience for a Brand or in the case of recent discussion, the Government.

It’s not as simple as paying any influencer X amount to repeat exactly what the Government has said – as an agency we interpret a brief from a client or in this case the message from the government, to bring that message to the audience in a way that’s digestible to them and authentic to the influencer.

#100Consent is the perfect example here – we produced a campaign for the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre around consent with the key message being, “if you are not 100% sure on both sides, then it is not consent and don’t do it.”

We brought 20 content creators together for a workshop on consent, going through what is means and the importance of consent and the consequences of not being sure.

The workshop left the creators informed and inspired to bring the key messages to their following. The social reach of this campaign was 5.2million. A huge success for all involved.

To utilise influencer marketing correctly, you should be brainstorming with the content creators themselves, not just sending them a brief to repeat verbatim. Work with the creator on what they think will work or how best to get the message across to their specific audience.


For anyone debating if an influencer should be paid to promote this messaging, just consider any TV advert or billboard you have seen around COVID-19 has been paid for. That Ad space has been paid for, the design and creative concept has been paid for, the videographer or photographer has been paid for, and so on. Why should an online content creator be any different? If done correctly, the influencer will be involved in scoping out a strategy for communicating the key message to their followers and then physically creating the content to post online. Their time, skill, and talent should be valued and paid for.

We understand and encourage anyone with a platform to promote safety around COVID-19 in general (many influencers have used their platform for this).

However, if being engaged specifically for a campaign with clear KPI’s and messaging from the Government to the influencer’s audience, the influencer is being used as an Advertising tool and should be paid the same as any other form of Advertising.


Thinking of incorporating influencers into your Marketing Strategy?