The government spent thousands of pounds in taxpayers’ money on influencers to promote NHS Test and Trace. The app, which was finally released on the 24th September, was subject to months of delay.
In the build-up, social media influencers and reality stars, such as former Love Island contestants, were paid from state coffers to encourage their followers to get tested for COVID-19.
While the exact amount that the government spent on the campaign hasn’t yet been revealed, typical posts from high-level influencers can cost between £5,000 and £10,000, according to an expert who spoke to The Mirror.
The publication claimed that influencers were told to praise the NHS and warned not to say anything negative about the government’s handling of the pandemic. The government made a statement defending its actions.
“Our use of social media influencers has meant over seven million people have been reached. This is just one part of a wider campaign utilising TV, radio, social media, print and other advertisements to ensure the public has the information it needs,” a government spokesperson said.
The spokesperson also claimed that all costs would be published online as part of regular transparency reports. Based on the number of posts, it’s possible that the full amount runs into the six figures.
Many of the posts were not correctly labelled as sponsored using #ad at first, leaving the posters exposed to potential charges from the Advertising Standards Agency.
Shaughna Phillips, 25, of Love Island fame was one of the influencers that the government paid to promote NHS Test and Trace.
She spoke to The Metro after she was criticised for taking part in the campaign. Claiming it was no different from a newspaper advert, Philips seemed unable to understand the negative public reaction.
In the infamous post, she paired an alleged throwback picture with a caption saying: ‘A throwback to what I love most! Nights out and good friends! Although this may feel like a distant memory to us all, we can all do our part to make sure we can get back to better times, as safely as possible’.
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