London - Oh, how celebrities love Twitter. They can pour out whatever drivel they please without interruption. But best of all, for them at least, they can get paid for their “thoughts” on the social networking site.
A sting on soap stars in Manchester, which was revealed this week, has shown just how commercial celebrity tweets have become.
Actors from Coronation Street were invited to a “gifting event” at a Manchester Hotel and then wrote glowing tweets about freebie goodies they’d been given by a fake company called Puttanta Aziendale (amusingly, in Italian that means “corporate wh*re”).
They may have claimed they were tricked into writing the tweets, but the investigation has highlighted a growing grey area where celebrities are using Twitter for their own gain.
In the US, stars such as Kim Kardashian — who has 18 million followers on Twitter — can earn up to £7 000 (about R105 000) for a single 140-character tweet if she mentions a particular product.
Footballer Wayne Rooney was rapped by the advertising watchdog the ASA for posting links written by his Nike sponsors. The ASA deemed the tweets to be more like adverts — but that doesn’t appear to have stopped more recent tweets about Rooney’s new Nike golf club, for example.
Others are more subtle when it comes to their commercial tweets, whether it is a TV presenter talking about the wonderful designer clothes she has been given or the sports star who tweets about her new car, but fails to mention it came courtesy of her sponsor.
What’s becoming increasingly clear is that Twitter — once a forum for celebrities to express their real feelings — is increasingly becoming a business. The biggest stars can earn up to £100 000 a year (in ready cash or the equivalent in freebies) simply for telling their followers their sponsored “thoughts”. Here, the Mail looks at some of the worst offenders.
engaged to Aussie cricketer Shane Warne, the self-styled ‘mum, model, actress, bikini designer, organic farmer’ is worth £7-million and has 300,000 followers.
WHAT SHE TWEETS ABOUT: In between flirting with her fiancé via Twitter and endless plugs about her bikini and bedding ranges, and acting work, Elizabeth also finds time to subtly mention Estee Lauder — without giving away the fact she is paid thousands by them each year for promotional work.
In May, she wrote ‘salivating over my new @Estee Lauder goodies’ and a day later: ‘And thank you @Estee Lauder for the arsenal of lipgoodies.’
SHAMELESS PLUGGING: 6/10
The Spice Girl turned fashion designer, 39, has 6.3 million followers — and is worth a cool £40-million.
WHAT SHE TWEETS ABOUT: There is a lot about her jet-setting and clothing line, and plenty about how handsome her husband is, but she still manages to fit in a few plugs for some of the many items she gets free or hugely discounted.
These include Chloe slippers: “How cute are these!!!”; white designer shoes: “Obsessed with my new white @ManoloBlahniks”; more shoes: “Thank you @Prada for my shoes!!! How posh, they have my initials on!!!” And there is other designer gear which is all pictured: “Nicest socks ever! Comme de Garcons”; “Manolo Blahnik candles!!! Super chic.” And even stuff for her 23-month-old fashion plate daughter (and favourite accessory) Harper: “Super cute jelly shoes for Harper from Vivienne Westwood @FollowWestwood.”
SHAMELESS PLUGGING: 9/10
WHAT SHE TWEETS ABOUT: There is a lot about the Kardashians’ huge “Kollection” of wares; just about anything from clothes to bronzing lotion. Everyone, it seems, wants to get that Kardashian look and she is there to help you — by plugging the stuff she is given.
If you want to be as sparkly as her, you could try “Necklace sparkling on my face #LoveDannijoJewellery,”; if you want her decorative look, there is “chic @lampsplus lighting”; or if you have sore lips “@EOS to the rescue!” It goes on.
SHAMELESS PLUGGING: 10/10
The Canadian singer is beloved by obsessed teenagers around the world — which is why 41 million follow the 19-year-old on Twitter
WHAT HE TWEETS ABOUT: Justin has a serious amount of ‘Beliebers’ who hang on his every word. A lot of his tweets are about his day-to-day activities as he tours the world.
But there are several plugs for sponsor Adidas, such as “Shooting with @adidasNEOLabel today. Making them make longer shirts”.
Another was for his range of telephone cases made by Cellairis: “* got one?” he asks. He doesn’t forget his tour sponsor: “Shoutout to @essence_US cosmetics. They’ll give away tix for my shows in the U.S. & Canada PLUS meet & greets!” Be still, beating hearts.
SHAMELESS PLUGGING: 8/10
WHAT SHE TWEETS ABOUT: Alesha started the year with a resolution to get fit. “First training session this year done! Was hard but feel good! Going 2 stick 2 my resolution and fight the January blues @LAfitnessUK_HQ X.”
Did she need to tell us what gym it was? Surely it’s not because she has a commercial interest, is it? Well, what do you know — she’s the company’s creative director. Alesha’s other big sponsor is Avon: “Well done @AvonUK for reaching 50k followers. Mwah!” she tweeted. Again no mention is made of the fact she is being paid by them.
SHAMELESS PLUGGING: 7/10
The 34-year-old glamour model turned author, clothes designer, columnist and businesswoman says on Twitter: “Never underestimate the Pricey!”
WHAT SHE TWEETS ABOUT: In between spreading the word about her many activities, Katie is busy tweeting about companies who pay her — such as the chocolate bar Snickers — or give her free stuff.
In the past few days, there have been plugs for card and gift company Clintons, “for the amazing bag of goodies”, fashion retailer Spoiled Brat, a ‘Ferrari engine’ hairdrier and a Somerset hotel: “I also used @therookerymanor spa for a girlie day out, great for hen do to relax enjoy time with friends/family”.
The outspoken 42-year-old actress and Britain’s Got Talent judge has 1.4 million followers.
WHAT SHE TWEETS ABOUT: It isn’t easy looking good on screen, so she tweets thanks for the help she gets.
All her clothes for BGT come from Australian clothes designer J’Aton at a hugely discounted price and were regularly plugged on her Twitter feed: “OMG!!! Just taken delivery of my first batch of dresses from J’Aton Couture!!! For BGT live!!! Beyond excited.”
There were also plugs for shoe shop Love Lemonade and manicure company nailbanguk.
The 27-year-old England and Manchester United footballer is worth £50-million and has 6.6 million followers on Twitter.
WHAT HE TWEETS ABOUT: Wayne may have been censured by the advertising watchdog for his link to Nike, but that has not stopped him tweeting about the company — without mentioning his £1-million-a-year deal with them.
Recent examples include: “The pitches change. The killer instinct doesn’t. Own the turf, anywhere @NikeFootball” and “Different rules, same philosophy: play your way” with another Nike link. Who knew he had such a way with words? In March, he plugged another Nike freebie: “Just got my @NikeGoldEU Covert driver. Can’t wait to get out and test it,” he wrote of a new golf club.
Wayne is also ‘lead global ambassador in football’ for US firm Five Star Training. “Enjoyed the drills day with Five Star Training,” he wrote last month. “iPhone app in the works and coming in August, keep a look out!”
He is also sponsored by EA Sports, maker of the popular Fifa computer game. Perhaps that’s why he wrote: “Looking forward to my bed, but can’t sleep. Fifa time.”
SHAMELESS PLUGGING: 9/10 - Daily Mail