Update: FavesAsia has apologised for the video, which painted “an inaccurate representation of the (influencer) industry”.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday night (April 5), FavesAsia explained that the events in the video had been intentionally exaggerated and were not reflective of any of the influencers’ true personalities.
“We noticed that some people viewed the video differently from our original intention, and they took the exaggerated content as something serious, misunderstanding that was the exact image FavesAsia's trying to portray,” said the Facebook post. “We did not want to continue creating the wrong impression among the public, hence we took down the video.”
With the widespread use of social media apps and sites, anyone can call themselves a 'social media influencer' these days.
It's a title that comes with a delightful number of perks: Exclusive invitations to events that common folk never get to attend in their lifetime, and the constant offers of free food and beauty products in exchange for a post or two on your social media accounts. If you can make a name for yourself, that is.
With the increasing number of people battling for the title of "influencer", going from a nobody to a Somebody can prove to be quite a challenge.
Cue social media marketing startup FavesAsia, which provides a platform for aspiring influencers, also known as 'personalities', to make themselves known.
In a recruitment advertisement posted on Tuesday (April 4), FavesAsia tried to reel in prospective personalities with a video showing the journey to fame for an aspiring social media influencer.
Unfortunately, the sheer materialism and unrealisticness of the three-minute clip left viewers slack-jawed in disgust. The cringe-worthy clip, which was initially posted on Facebook, has since been taken down.
For those who wish to spend the next 3 minutes and 36 seconds of your life in a more productive way, here's the video in pictures.
A girl, henceforth known as Aspiring Influencer, is sitting alone at a cafe, swiping through an Instagrammer's profile.
Her friend then joins her and asks why she looks so down. Aspiring Influencer explains that she's envious of said Instagrammer for having so many followers and sponsorships.
She even adds that she is such a huge fan of the Instagrammer that she knows what underwear the Instagrammer wears. That's too much information, if you ask us.
Unfazed, Nice Friend then introduces her to FavesAsia, and the mechanics of how FavesAsia works are explained to the viewer in an abrupt voiceover.
The video skips to two months later, and Aspiring Influencer is seen eating with her friends at a cafe, before they head off to do their nails together. They then wrap up the day with a beach party or two. All the glitz and glamour, really!
Six months pass, and a Maserati that Aspiring Influencer is sitting in pulls up in front of a building.
Four bouquet-wielding fanboys immediately approach the car, and the driver - Aspiring Influencer's new boyfriend, perhaps? - appears surprised at their presence. We were surprised too: usually, only K-pop idol groups receive such raucous welcomes from their fans here.
Aspiring Influencer then bashfully explains that she wouldn't have dreamt of having so many fans if not for FavesAsia.
Aspiring Influencer is next seen at a networking event, with presumably other high-flying influencers. She's worked her way up from one thousand followers to joining the ranks of the influencers, with a fanbase to boot, after all.
The most worrisome part about this video is neither the shabby acting nor the dubious plot.
Instead, it is the message that it is sending to its viewers.
The video implies that young aspiring influencers could possibly be able to enjoy a life of fame and riches without much effort other than looking pretty and perhaps writing a sponsored post once in a while.
There are many things wrong with this: being an influencer is nowhere as easy as it looks, and the emphasis that FavesAsia places on beauty, both on the site and in its ad, promotes a materialistic and shallow culture that looks only skin-deep and no further.
After all, if fame were that easy to attain, then why is it that there are only so few influencers who truly make their mark? Wouldn't we all be fighting to become big-name influencers of our own as well, instead of slogging our days away at our desks?
Established social media influencers added their own two cents across different platforms.
A cast member of local Youtube channel WahBanana, Terence Then, wondered in a Facebook post what the video was trying to portray to the viewers.
In his Instagram post, he added: "Yes we are all humans, you must be thinking who doesn't want fame. Who doesn't want to be recognised and who doesn't want to be sponsored. But you need to understand all these doesn't LAST one bit. Why be blinded and chase things that doesn't last? Isn't that of less value than the things you can actually build to last?"
Saw this video on Facebook and I felt the need to talk about it because i'm so burdened by it. Basically in short, it's about a girl complaining that she is sad and jealous of a girl she's stalking on IG because she has not as much followers and no sponsorships. Her Friend then introduces her to FAVESASIA platform. The next part of the video shows her getting sponsored food at a cafe. Sponsored SPA. Going to parties. And finally being driven in a fancy sports car with fans waiting outside the MASERATI and her Boyfriend saying "eh so many fans already ah? Remember to smile ok?" 。 Seriously what on earth is this shit? And most importantly what are you trying to portray to our younger generation? The impact of what you portray could mean a huge deal to clueless young teens growing up. Dear kids and teenagers you do have the freedom of choice to believe what you want. but please please please do not be influenced by such misleading content you see everywhere. Life isn't about this. It's much more than all the shallow things they are portraying in the video. You DO NOT need more followers. you DO NOT need to more sponsorships. You DO NOT need to be jealous of the people you see on Instagram. Yes we are all humans, you must be thinking who doesn't want fame. Who doesn't want to be recognised and who doesn't want to be sponsored. But you need to understand all these doesn't LAST one bit. Why be blinded and chase things that doesn't last? Isn't that of less value than the things you can actually build to last? 。 A house must be build on solid foundation if it's to last. The same goes for men. Build on your character and your gifts instead and success will definitely come in many ways. Paving your way to a happy and meaningful life. You do not always need affirmation from the world to know your worth. You definitely DO NOT need fame and followers and sponsorships and all that kind of stuffs to determine that. You are already an abundance of worth when you enter this world and you need to know that. Don't be blinded. Especially the younger generation who are growing up together with this digital social media age. Look further. Please look much further and deeper.
Another influencer, Nellie Lim, expressed her disgust at how the industry was portrayed in the video and emphasised that true influencers were not influencers for want of the material rewards they got out of their job.
She wrote in a Facebook post: "If you're only doing it because you want followers, sponsorships, media invites, fans and a boy who drives you around in a sports car, DON'T. Do it because you love creating content. Do it because you love working on social media strategies. Do it because you love what you do and not what you'll get out of it."
Local celebrity blogger Xiaxue, one of the pioneers of the industry, also weighed in on the issue. Although she did not watch the video, she wrote in a response to an anonymous query on ask.fm that if aspiring influencers wish to be "materialistic and fame hungry", nobody has any right to tell them to not be.
However, she added that the fame levels promised by FavesAsia were highly unrealistic, and nearly "impossible to achieve".