Latin American politicians court social media stars, often inappropriately

0 13

Lin the year, three months after her husband fell off a hotel balcony and died, Deolane Bezerra, a 33-year-old criminal lawyer, launched a reality show on YouTube. Her personal tragedy generated a lot of publicity, as her husband, MC Kevin, was a famous singer and the circumstances of his death apparently involved alcoholism and adultery, reported in detail by the media.

Listen to this story.
Enjoy more audio and podcasts ahead iOS or Android.

Your browser does not support the element

Many Brazilians, it turned out, wanted to follow the daily lives of Ms. Bezerra and her siblings. Today she has over 14m followers on Instagram, a photo and video sharing platform. She has said she spends between 400,000 reais ($73,000) and 1.8m reais for advertising contracts (The Economist tried to interview Ms. Bezerra, but she did not appear). That would make her one of the highest paid digital celebrities in Brazil. She was recently invited to meet Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, former president of the Workers’ Party (pt) is favored to win back his old job in the October elections. “Happy to know that everything I hope for my Brazil is in your manifesto,” she posted later, along with a photo of him kissing her on the forehead. (On July 14 the police raided her home in a money laundering investigation. She denies having committed a crime.)

Ms Bezerra is an influencer: an internet celebrity who gets her followers to buy things. By some measures, influencers are more influential in Latin America than in other regions, and there is no doubt why politicians as well as perfumers are scrambling to get their approval.

Selfie country

A study by We Are Social, a media group, suggests that 22% of internet users worldwide follow an influencer (although definitions of influencers vary). In Brazil the figure is 44%. In Argentina and Colombia, about a third do, compared to 20% in America (see chart). According to a consumer survey conducted by Statista, a data company, two-fifths of Brazilians say they have bought a product because of an influencer, the highest share among 56 countries surveyed. Nielsen, a market research company, estimates that Brazil has 500,000 potential influencers on social media (which it defines as those with more than 10,000 followers). That’s more than anywhere else.

Latin American influencers can be ordinary people as well as celebrities – Ms Bezerra was little known until last year. But they can punch above their weight. Launchmetrics, an analytics company, has created a refined machine learning metric that attempts to measure what an influencer’s support is worth compared to the cost of creating a standard ad campaign that would generate the same level of engagement among his audience.

He found that when JeanCarlo León, a 25-year-old Colombian influencer, posted an Instagram post for Prada, an Italian fashion brand, it generated $620,000 worth of exposure over six months. That may seem punitive compared to Kendall Jenner, an American influencer and model, who created six times more publicity (worth $3.7m) with a post on Instagram for Prada over the same period. But Ms Jenner has 250m followers, more than 40 times more than Mr León. Mr. León seems to be paying more attention.

The region may be particularly susceptible to influencers because Latin Americans are particularly fond of social media. It is estimated that Colombians, Brazilians, Argentines and Mexicans spend a total average of three and a half hours a day on social media, one hour more than the global average. Argentines who use Instagram on an Android phone spend a whopping 17 hours on the app every month. In contrast, Americans on an Android phone spend less than eight hours on the app each month. One study estimated that WhatsApp, a messaging app, was downloaded on 99% of Brazilian smartphones.

Influencers around the world often give advice to fans about improving their looks, which is already big business in Latin America. In Argentina one of the largest private health insurances offers plans that include one plastic surgery procedure per year. Brazil, where 13% of the world’s elective cosmetic surgery takes place, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, began offering tax breaks for cosmetic work in 2010. A member of the revenue service called by Bloomberg explained that “cosmetic treatments were also about health, physical and mental.” Influencers often talk about the procedures they Ms Bezerra has spoken about how she got labiaplasty to make her vulva more symmetrical.

Young people trust influencers more than political parties, says Camila Rocha, who co-authored a study on youth and democracy in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. Javiera Mieres, a Chilean fashion influencer, believes that because influencers post and talk to their fans almost every day, “people feel.. .that they are basically interacting with a friend”. When they talk about politics, the fans listen.

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s populist president, used social media to win an election in 2018. Pro-Bolsonaro groups spent millions of dollars flooding WhatsApp with inappropriate chatter about his opponent, Fernando Haddad of Lula’s party , the pt. In contrast, the pt has been slower to embrace digital enterprise. In April Lula tweeted that he had been “asked to renew his social media presence; his post came with a picture of him wearing pink sunglasses. He said he would be opening accounts on TikTok and Kwai, two video streaming platforms. He also began courting influencers, many of whom have encouraged 16 and 17-year-olds, who can vote but are not required to do so, to register.

But influencers can be difficult friends. On July 13, Anitta, a Brazilian pop star with 63m followers on Instagram, gave Lula’s campaign a dramatic boost by posting a photo of herself leaning against a stripper’s pole in a red catsuit, with Lula’s party logo on it. to decorate her bottom. She said she did not support the pt but offered to repost messages in support of Lula from anyone who wanted to “do [Lula] rock here on the internet, TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram; just ask me and if it is within my reach and not against election law I will do it.” Three days later she again said she was not pt member and ban the party from using her image in their campaigns.

There is also the risk of politicians looking stupid. José Antonio Kast, a devout Catholic who ran for president of Chile last year, invited an influencer named Daniella Chávez to headline his last campaign event. That confused some of his more die-hard supporters. Ms. Chávez is a Playboy bunny with a channel on OnlyFans, a racy subscription platform, where she posts videos with captions like “I can’t wait to show you what’s between my legs!! ”

Similarly in Argentina, President Alberto Fernández invited L-Gante, then a 21-year-old singer, to his home shortly before the mid-term elections in November. Mr. Fernández may have hoped that their meeting, a video of which he posted online, would attract young voters to his leftist coalition, which says it works for the poor. Unfortunately, L-Gante has the word “rich” on his face. Mr. Fernández was ridiculed for looking cool.

Some influencers don’t want to post about politics for fear of losing money. Ms Mieres in Chile uploaded videos supporting Gabriel Boric, the new leftist president, after graduating from university. But now that she’s a full-time influencer, she only mentions politics in her Instagram stories, which are automatically deleted after 24 hours. “No influencer wants to risk being too political because otherwise brands will stop hiring you,” she said. Luísa Sonza, a Brazilian singer, recently said that brands were boycott those who denounced Mr. Bolsonaro.

Perhaps because of how difficult it is to convince influencers to rally behind them, some politicians have taken up the mantle themselves. In the Colombian presidential election in June, Rodolfo Hernández, a 77-year-old candidate, almost won by posting prolifically on TikTok, where his tagline was “old but tasty”. It collected more than 5m likes. He wasn’t quite chosen – but he came close.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.