TV show. “Complément d’Enquête” looks back at the booming business of “influencers”.

This is the case, naturally unexpected, which characterized this summer: the rapper Booba started a media war with the hashtag #influvoleurs, accompanied by a website that aimed to collect testimonies from subscribers who feel cheated by the stars they follow on social networks. Two complaints followed against X for deceptive trade practices and organized gang fraud, notably involving Shauna Events, one of the main influencer agencies in France, directed by Magali Berdah. The latter accuses the rapper of harassment and launched an investigation that led to the deletion of Booba’s Instagram account.

Anecdotal clash or genuine legal battle? The magazine “Complément d’Enquête” took an interest in these famous product placements by the influencers that the rapper condemned.

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Product placement, what is it?

Nabilla, Jessica Thivenin and Thibault Garcia, Paga, Jazz, Mila Jasmine… their names surely mean something to you. If they all made themselves known by participating in a reality TV show, their colorful personalities and their advantageous physiques quickly attracted advertisers.

If Nabilla can now hit up to 10 000 euro for a short video when 90% of the clothes and accessories in Milla Jasmine’s wardrobe were given to her, thanks to a woman: High Priestess of Influencers, Margali Berdah. This former insurance broker went out of business in 2011 when she crossed paths with some of these new stars of the small screen, to whom brands offer products in exchange for exposure on their social networks. She then understands that their image has value and that she can help them monetize this exposure.: these are the famous product placements.

The profitability of product placements no longer needs to be proven: they are twice as popular as traditional advertising. So of course brands go out of their way to grab a few minutes on the social networks of star influencers.

It is the goose that lays the golden eggs“, admits Mathieu Jabaud, specialist in media strategy, to the show’s journalists. “ On the one hand you have traditional advertising and on the other hand someone who will discuss their ups and downs with you and at some point they will have a product in hand. I inevitably want the same, we are really on the emotional side: we don’t feel like we’re buying anything, we act like a friend, a companion that we follow every day.»

We’re really on the emotional side: we don’t feel like we’re buying anything.

Mathieu Jabaud, media strategy specialist

Counterfeit products and prohibited substances

This thriving business is not immune to its share of excesses. Fake driver’s license, fake products, sports betting or risky financial investments… Some product placements do not always comply with the law.

Cindy Raymond, 62000 subscribers on Instagram, have paid the price themselves. After participating in the TF1 program, “Family big: life in XXL”, she joined the agency WeEvents – the main competitor of Shauna Events – which offered her product placement for a brand of hair products. Supporting photos she claims to have lost in density, length and even whole handfuls of hair.

When faced with her question, her agent advised her to replace the contents of the popular bottles with these usual products to continue promoting them on her social networks while pretending that she really uses them on a daily basis. The family’s mother rejects the scheme and breaks her contract with WeEvents.

The ”Complément d’Enquête” teams managed to obtain a judgment from the Court of Appeal in Paris dated 24 February 2022: We learn that at the end of 2019, the Fraud Repression (DGCCRF) had analyzed the brand’s products and discovered the presence of several prohibited substances. Another analysis from September 2020 subsequently confirmed the presence of banned substances in nine products marketed by the brand.

Additionally, the “Complément d’Enquête” teams have noted, via the cosmetics site’s legal notices, that the owner of the brand is none other than… the WeEvents agency. Contacted by our colleagues, its CEO, Wesley Nakache, defends the composition of its hair products and calls out a simple error from its supplier.

20000 euro fine to Nabilla

Faced with dozens of daily publications from influencers, some of which are no longer visible beyond 24 hours, this example is unfortunately no exception, but the DGCCRF promises ever stronger mobilization and the Minister of Economy in no directed, by video on social networks of course, to influencers to warn them.

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