The price we pay for celebrity ads



WE need to organize advertising via social media platforms, such as Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram. Many so-called celebrities use these tools to advertise products through their personal accounts and their reach depends on the number of followers they have.

With the increasing popularity of Snapchat in Saudi Arabia, these celebrities promote various shops, products and activities, which could be random and chaotic, as long as it profits them. This has potential damage to the consumer, who may fall victim to their promotion gimmicks.

People in Saudi Arabia do not have sufficient media literacy to recognize whether a particular celebrity is actually advertising something of value or not. This is tantamount to exploitation of the love of followers for personal and financial benefits. These people advertise products without verifying their quality or obtaining the necessary guarantees from the manufacturers or traders.

I do not mean to harm the livelihood of people who do this type of work, but we need to organize this activity for the purpose of transparency and to mitigate its negative effects by setting rules and regulations. Experts and content makers can tell if the material presented is authentic or not. We should not make such judgment based on personal information or experience because there is a big difference between the two.

I am not talking about the ethics of exploiting people's love and abusing power and fame for personal gains at the expense of others. This is another story. What matters to us is the birth of new regulations and conditions that regulate advertising behavior on social media.

What will change the rules of the game — in my opinion — is to reveal what is paid to the celebrities in return for promoting a product on Snapchat and Twitter. This vital information these people usually avoid sharing because it will expose them and erode their fan base.

These people enjoy all the privileges of life, including travel, car, restaurant food, hotel stay, clothing and personal gifts, free of charge only due to people's admiration for them. So none of them will be ready to expose themselves by disclosing the value of an advertisement or the amount they receive in return for their service.