Hey Guys, what’s up?
By now you all must have heard, read or watched YouTube videos of Elle Darby. If you haven’t yet, here is a little bit about Elle Darby. Elle Darby is UK based 22 years old Vlogger, Blogger, YouTuber and yes Social Media Influencer with 87000 YouTube subscribers and 76000 Instagram followers. (This was at the time ‘the incident’ happened). I am sure you know how much hard work and skill it requires to get this kind of following.
Let’s see now what ‘incident’ happened with Elle Darby. Elle Darby had plans to travel to Dublin for vacation for 5 days. (By the way, for a travel blogger or Vlogger vacation doesn’t mean regular vacation, it is workation). Since she is a social media Influencer, she approached the owner of a hotel, The White Moose Café, Mr. Paul Stenson for a “possible collaboration”. How she does it? She sends out an Email saying she works as a Social media Influencer, mainly lifestyle, beauty & travel based.” She further says, “As I was searching for a place to stay, I came across your stunning hotel and would love to feature you in my YouTube videos/Dedicated Instagram stories/posts to bring traffic to your hotel and recommend others to book up in return for free accommodation.” She also mentions that she had organized similar collaboration with Universal Orlando, Florida a year ago and they benefitted from the same immensely.
Now, let us see what actually Elle Darby must have offered in her email to the hotel. “I would do a promotion for your hotel by way of writing a review, feature your hotel in my YouTube videos but don’t pay me. Just take care of my 5 days stay at your hotel.” In simple words, it was a business proposal whereas payment would not be in any sort of currency but in form of 5 days hotel stay. I don’t think it takes some extraordinary intelligence to decode the email of Elle Darby, right? But what followed after that is nothing less than a drama. In a normal situation, any regular hotelier either would have grabbed the offer or if not convinced, would have declined by simply replying to the said e-mail.
Unbelievably this is what followed which I would like to call it ‘an Incident’. A bit similar to the incident happened decade back with Vivek Oberoi. I hope you all remember that famous or say infamous press conference which simply destroyed the chance to be a next Superstar for Vivek Oberoi. Most of the Indian movie lovers would remember. OK, let’s get back to Elle Darby. Mr. Paul Stenson chose social Media Platform just like Mr. Vivek Oberoi chose the Media platform, to respond. He posted the screenshot of Elle’s email with his reply on official Facebook page of The White Moose Café boasting of his hotel’s social media presence, accusing 22 years old Miss Elle Darby of being Free-loader and lot more than that. For example,“ Thank you for your email looking for a free accommodation in return for exposure. It takes a lot of balls to send an email like that if not much self-respect and dignity”. And not just that, Mr. Paul had to inform Elle that it costs money to hire employees who would check her in, clean her room, serve her breakfast etc. I have given the screenshot of his FB post below. More interestingly Elle came to know about the reply from a tweet on a twitter directed at her.
I really don’t know what it is called. What kind of response was that for an email with a business proposal. What followed after this was again very interesting. Social media reacted the way it is supposed to. Some people called it a publicity stunt by Mr. Paul Stenson and some called Elle Darby ‘a disgusting free-loader’. Elle posted a video on her YouTube channel responding to the Incident saying how badly she was hurt when she has done nothing wrong, She was just doing her job and eventually breaks down from the humiliation she felt during the video. Interestingly her number of YouTube subscribers went to 106K from 87k and 96.9k Instagram followers from 76000 in short span of time at the time of writing this article. Since Elle’s emotional breakdown, apparently, The White Moose Café faced a similar backlash. Strangely The White Moose Café owner, Mr. Paul Stenson responded to video Saying “All Bloggers banned from our business.” Here is the video where Elle Darby blasting The White Moose Cafe
Frankly speaking, I don’t see anything seriously wrong with Elle Darby sending out me for an email offering her services but in return, expecting 5 days accommodation and not the money. It is kind of barter system many in the industry follow even today. I am sure it was mutually beneficial. But yes, she should have explained to Mr. Stenson what was the benefit of the said collaboration in detail before quoting the price. But what Mr. Paul Stenson did instead of replying to the email was rude, unprofessional, foolish and uncalled for and not expected from a hotelier. We can understand may be lack of understanding of the Influencer Marketing was one of the reasons along with many others, I guess.
Now the bigger question is, what is the future of Influencer Marketing? We can take this case as an isolated one but there might be many more Mr. PAULs who possibly doesn’t understand that this 5days free stay could benefit his business immensely. But is it time for Vloggers and Influencers brought about change to the way they approach potential clients? Please do let me know what do you feel about,’The Incident‘.