I find it odd that anyone would actually admit being an influencer.

This is because, as I understand it, an influencer is most likely to be someone that pretends they like something because someone gave them some money to do so.

So if I was an influencer, I’d feel a bit uncomfortable with that.

I’d feel a bit shallow and stupid.

So would probably keep it quiet.

But then no one would know I was an influencer.

And wouldn’t know where to send the cheques and the stuff.

Oh.

I see.

Influencers.

I don’t get too fed up about influencers these days, because they are dying.

Though I must admit that a more naive me did flirt with those armed with large social media audiences in the early days of Always Wear Red.

I never gifted things.

But I did feel that I should be gifting things.

Because other people were gifting things.

So it must be right.

Right?

It always made me feel funny though.

So I stayed away.

Influence.

There’s a difference between a constructed, traditional (is that the right term for such a new construct?) ‘influencer’ and ‘someone with influence’.

And I think that there is additional subtext too in that if any brand takes influencing on as a marketing tactic, it is only acceptable if the greater good is fed – and it is part of their existing brand story.

So the messaging is not just made up for the latest campaign.

Lies.

So, nettle tea for slimming – because it is complete and utter bullshit – is not something that traditional influencers should flaunt.

Because this makes them liars, being paid by lying brands to lie to the vulnerable and the unconfident.

Conversely, Meghan Markle wearing Huit Jeans because they are genuinely superb jeans made by a genuine brand that is genuinely creating Welsh jobs and building a genuinely bonded community is fine by me.

I just see these two things as different.

So my summary is this.

Individuals that accelerate the building of good brands and good communities that – together – spread good ideas where there is clearly no loser, are fine.

Individuals that set unreal or unrealistic goals for the vulnerable is just a really shitty thing for one human being to knowingly do to another under any circumstances.

This second way is shitty not just because the headline is a lie, but because the subtext is that people are not good enough just the way they are is a lie also.

It’s positioning an impossible solution next to an imaginary problem.

And that clearly is, and always has been, wrong.

8 Comments

  1. Eddie McAtominey Reply

    Hi Michael

    Totally agree influencers should only ever be a – died in the wool -doing it for the love – Fan!

    I would like to think I have brought, in a small way some positive influence to bear on two ‘brands.’

    Firstly as an expat, made in ‘The Felling’ Newcastle United fan.

    I have tried to extol the virtues of the club, through the rare thick and more often thin times.
    living in London for the last 30 years, more often than not, falling on very deaf ears.

    My influence here, as you can imagine is quite singular – A Son – North London born and bred, (within 1 mile of Arsenal and Tottenham so with choice and considerable peer pressure) who got it from his first way day match visit – being part of a fan passion which sells the club itself.

    Secondly Nigel Cabourn – I love his clothing – The last a lifetime – buy once albeit expensively
    but buy well, product with a passion and a heritage based story resonates more with me the older I get.

    Maybe again its the North East connection.

    The occasional friend, I think may get it, I take to his London store- Just to get them to feel the quality.

    Maybe I have converted a few, but like attending an away day – its only me showing Mr Cabourns’
    passion that really facilitates any influence.

    Best wishes
    Eddie

    • Michael Owen

      Hello Eddie

      Nigel is based about a mile from where I live.

      I’ve chatted with, and learned a lot from him.

      I’ve been Always Wear Red for 3 years.

      Nigel has been Nigel for almost 70 years as you know, and he’s been Cabourn (the brand) for 51.

      He and Paul Smith started out together.

      Selling Tee-Shirts.

      Nigel told me he achieved very little for 5 years, before Paul introduced him to military.

      It was love at first sight.

      And it grew from there.

      He told me to be patient.

      So I am being.

      http://www.alwayswearred.com.

      Newcastle United are my adopted football team I suppose.

      I was born in Manchester so I guess Manchester City are my first team.

      For me, Newcastle United are a little bit like the Carry On Film of football teams.

      Endearing and slightly silly.

      I want them to do well and, in my lifetime, they might.

      But I always see them as an accident waiting to happen.

      I reckon if someone wrote then a check for half a billion they’d lose it on the way to the bank.

      Or some similar mishap.

      Anyhow, thank you for taking the time to chat.

      I am always interested in what people think.

      Especially if, like you, they are a friend of 50odd.co.uk that has the greatest hair on the whole of LinkedIn.

      Thank you again.

  2. Fucking influencers nearly killed my daughter. It took a year of sacrifice and hardship to talk her back from the edge of a self-loathing precipice. And she still takes long walks along the edge. Fuck them for the prostitutes that they are.

    • Michael Owen

      You’re on fire today Shaughn…

      It is a complex issue I’ve raised, so that people can engage.

      And I am really really grateful that you are getting involved.

      And with such a personal story.

      For me, this is the heart of the problem.

      And it is a problem:

      “…it’s positioning an impossible solution next to an imaginary problem.”

      This is what you said.

      It is cruel and snide.

      But you said it better.

      Because you are revealing the reality that can result from the bullshit and the quest to create value where there isn’t any.

      Playing on the vulnerable and the unconfident (which is all of us)

      Thank you x

      PS. If I can ever help with your daughter, chatting to her from the perspective of being a brand owner in the fashion/clothing sector, please let me now. I don’t really know anything you don’t know already – but as I am not dad, messaging is sometimes better received.

  3. Bless you mate. Sorry for the expletives.

    Hopefully, I’ll bring the whole family up North during at some point this year. She’ll enjoy seeing the inside of a ‘fashion business’. Plus we can all go for dinner. I’ll sit her next to you. You can have some practice at dealing with what Izzy might turn into in a decade or so!

    • Michael Owen

      See you soon yes.

      We’ll go to Pete Zulu’s place.

      It’ll be fun.

      And swear away!

      This is a place where everyone should be everything they are.

      Tarra for now.

      M.

  4. I’m not against people sharing their love of something they care about or just really like a lot. I do it for AWR and Hiut and Do and Deus, and &Sons and The Bike Shed and The Distinguished Gentleman’s ride and lots of others. But I don’t do it for profit. And I come at it from a place of love and because I want other people that I know and like to share in the goodness that I have found.

    What I don’t do is say anyone is less of a person because they do not look or think like me. I don’t set up impossible or artificially beautified, photoshopped benchmarks that people can never hope to achieve without incorporating a similar level of artifice. And, most importantly, I never ever give advice or guidance that could materially and adversely affect another persons’ physical or mental wellbeing – especially when I have no training, experience or qualifications for dispensing said information.

    They’re selling snake oil. And it stinks.

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