The Importance Of Authenticity In Sponsored Posts & Reviews | Clozette


Just 10 to 15 years ago, it was unimaginable that we would be relying so much on the internet. Back then, it was much simpler with tri-media and physical books being our source of information on almost every topic. Phones and computers were only used for communicating and general "professional" functions such as emails and business calls. But fast forward to our technologically mediated present, our lives today can simply be summarised through the content on our smartphones. And like anything else in life, such advancements have their own pros and cons. The tech-driven life is open to fake or misleading information. 


To be fair, what we call now as "fake news" has been a phenomenon since the ancient and medieval eras considering that information back then can be easily intercepted for political or societal gain. But through the accessibility made possible by the internet, it truly bloomed during the 21st century, especially this year. 




But we're not here to talk about history or politics. We're here to discuss something that we, as consumers, encounter daily given our social media-centric lives. We are shedding the spotlight on misleading sponsorships and fake reviews, whether it be in influencer posts, social media adverts, or online e-commerce sites' forums. The reason is simple: we all buy something using our hard-earned money on a daily basis so it is an issue anyone can get on board with. 


So from the perspective of a brand, a creator and a consumer, here's our multi-faceted take on this era of information consumption. 


The issue


A discussion should always have a precedent and ours come in the form of the recent controversy surrounding the beauty brand Sunday Riley. A former employee took to Reddit a couple of days ago to say that they were deliberately tasked to create fake reviews for products of the said brand. The person went into detail by mentioning the beauty e-commerce site Sephora as one of the main platforms where they usually put their falsified appraisal of the products. 



(Source)


The thread blew up significantly and it was no surprise when Sunday Riley issued their official statement on the matter. To quote, they emphasised, "At one point, we did encourage people to post positive reviews at the launch of this product, consistent with their experiences. There are a lot of reasons for doing that, including the fact that competitors will often post negative reviews of products to swing opinion."


While it still raised some questions, we'll take this moment to give props to Sunday Riley for quickly addressing the situation. And if we're being frank, they're probably just the unlucky brand who got exposed in an industry teeming with such secrets. 



Just a couple of months ago, we did create a story on how influencers have exposed the culture of brands hiring agencies and personalities to 'trash' competitors so the brand's response didn't exactly bring anything new to the table. In fact, it just verified the claims. So on both ends, it is safe to say that similar to sponsored posts or reviews done by celebrities or influencers, a person hired to write anonymously on a forum works almost with the same principle: say something good about our product and get paid. But the major difference is the word 'anonymously.' The difference between an advertisement and a layman's review is that there is a face we can associate to the former but none for the latter. So given this, how are we to trust "online word-of-mouth" and so-called "actual user experience" reviews? 



Dear creators


There is a line between anonymous accounts paid to create reviews and actual influencers and personalities who get signed to do sponsored content. Paid advertisements, especially on social media, are now mediated by regulatory terms such as the need to openly declare that such a post is an ad and violations, misinterpretations or failure to comply will have consequences. YouTube was one of the earliest platforms that implemented these terms around 2012 or 2013.  Facebook and Instagram later followed suit.


But with such a cautionary approach to this new age of advertising, there are still a couple of controversies on consumer deception that just won't seem to go away. From Instagrammers who were caught faking their content to celebs like Shay Mitchell making suspect sponsored posts and brow-raising reviews (we still can't forget that cringe-worthy Bioré video), here's our note to fellow creators: your audience look up to you for opinions and advice. You are called an 'influencer' for a reason and that title should not be worn as a crown. Instead, it should be treated as a big responsibility. It can be quite idealistic to say that money shouldn't matter because it does. So the bottom line is that when you're faced with a shining brand deal, it shouldn't feel like you are selling your credibility and your integrity in promoting something that goes against your principles. In a world full of fake news and misleading content, be a catalyst for realness. 



Jot this down, fellow consumers


Clozette, as a community, is built on the foundation of our love for beauty and fashion. Given this, we and our Community members are no strangers to forums, Instagram posts, YouTube reviews, et cetera when looking for reviews of products we fancy. But with the online space becoming more and more untrustworthy due to these controversies, where do we look now? The answer still boils down to authenticity.


 

Look at platforms that are not afraid to criticise and give honest views on a product. Find a personality who actually uses the products they endorse. Be more vigilant and do your research. Last but not the least, nothing beats first-hand experience. The internet can be a bit confusing and overwhelming, but you can also use it as a tool to spread facts. Don't be afraid to hold someone accountable or call someone out if they are deliberately misleading their audience. Remember: you, as a consumer, are the backbone of this industry and just like the brands, the influencers and the other people involved in this environment, it is your responsibility to keep it as real, authentic, credible and safe as it can be. 


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It’s natural for kids to look up to those who are older than them. But when it comes to style, it can go the other way around. Some kids – or their parents – just have a natural knack for styling. Case in point: these mega-fashionable kids. Take inspiration and get a styling tip or two from these little fashion hotshots.

@coco_pinkprincess 



Much like the fashion legend that brought to life the sartorial powerhouse that is Chanel, with whom she shares a name, Coco has a flair for fashion. She’s got streetwear style down pat. What we like most about this kiddo is her love for hats and sunglasses.

@daphneerokhin



Cute and dainty — those are the words that best describe Naomi’s style. This Singaporean sweetheart shows us how to work the comfy-chic style through her outfits that are a mix of preppy and sweet.


@jun.olic 



Looking for inspiration for your little guy’s outfits? Jun Oliver from Indonesia’s the right kid to follow. He’s often donned in athleisure-inspired outfits with some swag to boot.


@itsmissoyen.ph 



Yes, you can definitely take down some style notes from a four-year-old, especially from one that has a versatile palette like Solana. This little girl from the Philippines can go from street to vintage in a heartbeat and rock the styles equally.



@zooeyinthecity 



This little girl’s got the style and the attitude. Getting inspiration from her two homes — Tokyo and Los Angeles — Zooey has a laid-back flair that’s hard to miss. Nobody can rock boots all-year-round better than she does!

@mayo923 



It’s double the dapper looks with this stylish duo from Singapore. Ryan and Ro show you can go matchy with your brother and still stand out. We love all of their ensembles, but we’re smitten with their choice of jackets.


@friska_f 



Clean, fresh and minimalist: we bet you never thought you could use those words to describe a kid’s style. With Elora, you definitely can. Imagine Audrey Hepburn’s classic elegance packed into a tiny being and you’ve got this kid’s looks.

@essiewidjaja 



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Right off the bat, the style of Riverdale's Veronica Lodge can be compared to another preppy girl that we know: Blair Waldorf. We think it's no coincidence since both ladies are from New York City's Upper East Side. However, even with the glaring similarities, there's still a distinction between their fashion choices. Veronica's is undoubtedly more sophisticated and less experimental. She also sticks to jewel-toned and monochromatic outfits. But what would happen if, in an alternate universe, Veronica Lodge decides to ditch her preppy look for a minimalistic one? Here's what we think she'd wear.


For school


Acne Studios Ribbed merino wool turtleneck sweater, USD300; Maje Pleated plaid woven mini skirt, USD265; AEYDĒ Leandra suede ankle boots, USD385; Gucci GG Marmont quilted leather backpack, USD1,890 (net-a-porter.com)


At school settings, we often see Veronica wearing a black top paired with a plaid skirt. But as a minimalist, we'd think she would go for a simple grey plaid skirt instead of those with eye-catching checks and houndstooth pattern. As for accessories, she will likely still sport a designer bag but it's not gonna be a pretty little handbag anymore, instead, she'll opt for an understated backpack with a monogram.


For hanging out at Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe


Theory stretch-knit peplum top, USD255; REDValentino cady shorts, USD450; Rupert Sanderson Aurora suede slingback sandals, USD695; Calvin Klein 205W39NYC leather shoulder bag, USD1,950 (net-a-porter.com)


Veronica is the kind of gal who will wear heels even if she's just gonna have a milkshake at Pop's and we don't think that would change if she'd go the minimalist route. However, instead of a satin halter top and plaid skirt, we imagine she would sport a crisp white top with a subtle peplum design matched with elegant cady shorts. 


For a party


MARYLING skinny-rib maxi dress, SGD670/~USD486.08; Prada quilted leather shoulder bag, USD1,750; Christian Louboutin Pigalle 100 patent-leather pumps, USD695 (net-a-porter.com)


It's evident that Veronica knows how to have a good time. Her usual night out ensemble is a lacey top or a sequined pleated dress with a halter neckline. However, when reimagined as minimalist we think Veronica would choose to wear something with a more elegant cut. She would pick a jewel-toned, body-hugging dress and match it with a pair of sophisticated shoes. 


For a family dinner


Max Mara Polka-dot silk and stretch-jersey top, USD495; Miu Miu two-tone wool-crepe mini skirt, USD745; Rupert Sanderson savanna velvet platform sandals, USD695; Mansur Gavriel circle leather tote, USD1,095 (net-a-porter.com)


The Lodge family is big on family dinners and Veronica always shows up in these gatherings looking like she's going to a five-star restaurant instead of their dining room. If she's gonna be a minimalist, expect that her style will stay on point no matter what. She will probably ditch the peter pan-collared dresses and exchange them for a simple sleeveless blouse paired with a cute two-toned crepe skirt. It still has some preppy elements but in a more straightforward, no-frills way. 


(Cover photo from: @thecwriverdale)


Next, find out what Sabrina from Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina will wear to prom


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