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Billionaire will pay you $150 to make him look good

Michael Bloomberg is paying influencers to promote him. Images: Getty

Forget the tooth whitening strips, meal kits and weight loss tea. Instagram influencers are now selling something entirely different: political ideals. 

New York billionaire and Presidential Democrat candidate Michael Bloomberg has reportedly spent more than US$300 million (AU$467 million) on advertising already, and could spend up to US$1 billion on election advertising – a fraction of his US$61.5 billion net worth

Bloomberg spent around US$35 million on advertising in one week when he announced he was running in November last year, according to Advertising Analytics.

In the wake of the chaotic Iowa Democrats’ caucuses last week, Bloomberg announced he would double his campaign spend to take advantage of the “unsettled” field. 

“No one has made the sale or even come close to it," Bloomberg spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said. "Meanwhile, Mike is taking the fight to Trump every day, doubling down on the national campaign strategy we've been running from the beginning.”

Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at a campaign event Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Now, the former New York City mayor is looking to another source of advertising: Instagram influencers. 

Food and travel blogger Alycia Chrosniak was approached by Bloomberg’s campaign team, offering to pay her US$150 to make content supporting the politician, Reuters revealed on Tuesday. 

“It feels weird to put out an ad supporting a person versus a product," Chrosniak said. 

She usually makes sponsored content for local restaurants and hotels, and given Bloomberg was not her “top choice”, she decided not to accept the offer. 

Chrosniak is one of a slew of influencers approached by his team.

Bloomberg’s team also launched a campaign on social media marketplace Tribe to connect with social media influencers, The Daily Beast reports.

“Are you sick of the chaos & infighting overshadowing the issues that matter most to us? Please express your thoughts verbally or for still image posts please overlay text about why you support Mike,” the pitch to influencers reads.

“Show+Tell why Mike is the candidate who can change our country for the better, state why YOU think he’s a great candidate.”

Do social media ‘influencers’ actually influence people? 

Hailey Baldwin, Emily Ratakowski, Bella Hadid, Elsa Hosk and Jasmine Sanders all promoted Fyre Festival. Image: Fyre Festival

In short: yes. 

One-in-three online purchases in Australia can be linked to influencer advertising, research from Power Retail reveals. 

“The impact of influencers is so great that many believe that Instagram’s recent trial of removing ‘likes’ was in response to the threat of posts by influencers overwhelming ‘genuine’ users,” Power Retail managing director Grant Arnott said.

“This ‘impact’ is shown through our research as it concluded that Australian online retailers have embraced influencers as a marketing tool, with 86 per cent utilising them, and 49 per cent of retailers having multiple forms of relationships with influencers, including paid posts.”

And influencers have also been mass-deployed to disastrous effect. 

The catastrophic Fyre Festival used an army of influencers to sell a dream holiday. But musicians dropped out and the luxury food and accommodation turned out to be disaster relief tents and pre-made sandwiches. 

Festival director Billy McFarland was found to have defrauded investors of US$27.4 million and Instagram influencers were also sued for fraud, unfair trade practices and negligent misrepresentation. 

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