kanye’s season six yeezy paparazzi campaign might be breaking the law
This article was originally published by i-D UK.
In a very strategic move, the Yeezy Season Six campaign employed the same tactic tabloid newspapers use to ensure maximum clicks: pap shots. Lots of famous people doing lots of ordinary things. Kim Kardashian running errands, Sarah Snyder dressed up as Kim Kardashian running errands, Paris Hilton dressed up as Kim Kardashian running errands.
Small problem: the shots all could be illegal. As The Fashion Law reports, if you’re paid to promote anything on Instagram you have to say so. Hence all the #spon #ad #inpartnershipwithmiscellaneousdetoxtea tags popping up on your feed. Unless it’s a formal campaign, which is generally so obviously an ad campaign that you don’t need to flag it.
Which is where the Yeezy shots trip up: they’re designed to vaguely resemble candid, actual pap shots (albeit much more glamorous ones). And if, say, you were hibernating for all 93 days of January, you mightn’t know it’s part of Kanye’s mastermind ad campaign. As The Fashion Law states, “there is a very good chance most consumers have no idea that any of the imagery is actually part of a formal ad campaign (and that the models are likely being compensated in some way — even if it is just free clothes — to post these images on their accounts).” Which makes it illegal.
So if it is, then what? Well, in the prior example outlined by TFL (or the "precedent" as we refer to it in our Hallowed Halls of Justice), the company were “barred from presenting content that it pays for as coming from an independent source, such as a magazine or influencer”. Which basically means that they have to disclose when they’ve paid anything or anyone to promote their clothes.
Between the Yeezy shots and Balenciaga’s just-released campaign, it’s clear that the humble pap shot is having its moment. But in a world where the lines between reality and fiction are already so blurred, it pays for brands to be crystal clear about where the creativity ends and the compensation begins. Otherwise, the next niche photographic content opportunity to exploit may just be the mug shot.