Two days after FMCG giant Unilever called for more improvement in the integrity, transparency and measurement of influencer marketing, a Singaporean influencer has sparked brand safety concerns after being called out for misusing stock photos.
An exposé by local website Mothership.SG after a tip-off, found that well-known local photographer Daryl Aiden Yow had lifted photos off stock websites like Shutterstock and social media platforms like Pinterest, and claimed them as his own on his Instagram page. He was found to have used Photoshop to edit himself in them, after a side by side comparison.
Yow, who has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram, counts big brands like Sony, Dyson, Uniqlo, Oppo and Reebok as his clients, promoting their products in these photoshopped images. He has even conducted photography workshops for Sony.
Yow has yet to respond, but another local website Mustsharenews claimed to have spoken to him on the phone, where he said that the brands he worked with, were aware that he used stock photos to promote their products and approved them. He also claimed that he sent them the receipts to prove that he paid for them.
Marketers like Tim Sharp, who is the regional strategy lead at APD, slammed the brands for working with Yow, saying on LinkedIn: "As a client-side marketer you should absolutely want to know how one of your 'influencers' manages to take themselves and your new product on a trip to 'Santorini' on the good airline 'Adobe Photoshop'."
"As a potential customer of a leading camera company, you should also absolutely want to know how the brand is either a) unfamiliar enough with their own range to buy these photoshopped images as product samples or b) perhaps even complicit in creating misleading product demonstrations stitched together from Shutterstock. An ugly situation for all concerned."
"Will 2018 be the year we finally see a major correction in influencer marketing?
A check by another well-known Singaporean influencer, Wendy Cheng, also known as Xiaxue, found that the amount of Yow’s posts on Instagram had drastically been reduced since the Mothership.SG story went live, with many of the posts that were called out disappearing. Yow also appeared to start adding credits to photos that were lifted off social media.
Meanwhile, brands like Fraser and Neave and low-cost airline Scoot were quick to jump in on the action, while many internet users started to use Photoshop to post photos of themselves in another location.
The Drum has reached out to Sony for a response, but has yet to receive a response at press time.