Product placement, sponsored posts, influencer seeding… these are all terms we are just now beginning to familiarize ourselves with. With the rise of social media and the overflux of social influencers, it is becoming more and more difficult to differentiate an advertisement from an “organic” ordinary post. Social media influencers are being paid tens of hundreds of thousands of dollars to post on social media with sponsored items. Although our daily newsfeeds are over saturated with these “organic” sponsored posts, we can’t help but think, has commercial life always been this way?

In fact, yes, ever since the 1800s when Jules Verne published a novel: “Around the World in Eighty Days” where transport and shipping companies demanded to be mentioned, by name, in the novel. Only a few years later, painter Eduoard Manet painted a bar scene with recognizable bottles featured on the table top. Later, in the late 19th century, publishers recognized the need for the then “social influencers” to be mentioned in the local paper in order to increase sales. 

The concept of product placement, sponsored posts, and influencer seeding is not a newfound platform- it has been in the works for centuries. Public Relations professionals know how to influence and persuade the public to think and feel a certain way about a certain product and have known since the 19th century.

In today’s world, the FFC and other media regulatory agencies are looking to set guidelines for and monitor the amount of sponsored posts on our social media platforms. Watch out Kardashian clan, you might not love your “fittea” or “sugarbearhair” gummies so much to post about them any longer!