Beauty vloggers and cult celebrities are being courted by luxury brands
Seven years ago, Chiara Ferragni was a fledgling 23-year-old fashion blogger, studying law at university in Milan. She never finished her degree, but now lives in a $3.5m Los Angeles mansion packed with antiques, and spends her days travelling the world in midriff-revealing tops, Gucci sweatshirts, cut-off jeans and a collection of Louis Vuitton. How do we know this? Every day, the Blonde Salad shares images of her gilded lifestyle with her 9.6 million followers on Instagram, making her one of the cult celebrities of the social media world. Unlike Taylor Swift, Beyonc et al, who have all made their names elsewhere and maintain fanbases on the photo-sharing platform, Ferragni has found fame and fortune solely by publishing photographs of herself wearing a variety of designer ensembles in a range of glamorous locations. Now worth a reputed $12m, with a line of branded shoes selling at up to $500 a pair, and a contract with Pantene as a global ambassador, Ferragni is a role model to a generation of digital natives who have established a viable career as social media influencers. On her 30th birthday earlier this month, her boyfriend, Italian rapper Fedez, proposed on stage in Verona, singing a song dedicated to her at a concert broadcast live to their home nation. Almost one million fans liked the Instagram video of the moment. That same day, almost half a million clicked the heart symbol below an image of her in a black mini dress, featuring the hashtag #ysl, while 700,000 followers liked another image Ferragni shared, showing her next to a vast 30th birthday cake emblazoned with the Leading Hotels of the World logo, with the hashtags #leadinghotelsoftheworld, #LHWtraveler and #kempinskivenice. To those unfamiliar with the machinations of social media, it is highly likely Ferragni had a commercial arrangement with these luxury brands, keen to tap into an audience that wants to emulate her lifestyle. She is not alone in utilising her position as a social media star with a loyal and highly engaged following. Earlier this month, 17-year-old Amanda Steele shared images of herself on the red carpet at the Cannes film festival, hanging out with Hollywood A-listers Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton. The YouTube beauty vlogger, who shares make-up tips under the MakeupbyMandy24 handle, was flown out to the French Riviera, dressed and made up, and given tickets to the premiere of Okja courtesy of Christian Dior all in return for a caption shared with her 2.8 million followers that read: Thank you sooooo much @diormakeup for treating me like a princess!! In just a few years, the power of blogs and platforms such as Instagram has created a new marketing genre that has seen brands investing heavily in collaborations with the big names in the online space. Beca Alexander, founder and president of the social media casting and management agency Socialyte Collective, represents about 100 influencers, each with between 30,000 and 2 million followers. One of our top influencers did about $1m last year and the average for those on our books is around $200,000 a year, says the digital entrepreneur from her New York office.
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Trumps advisers are planning to establish a war room to combat mounting questions about communication between Russia and his presidential campaign before and after Novembers presidential election, while bringing new aides into the White House, administration officials and persons close to Trump told Reuters.
Upon Trumps return, the administration will add experienced political professionals, including Trumps former campaign manager, and possibly more lawyers to handle the Russia probe, which has gained new urgency since the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to head the investigation, the sources said.
A person in regular touch with the White House said it needed a different structure to focus on the new reality that there would be continued leaks to the media from the law enforcement and intelligence communities, leaks that have increased in frequency since Trump fired former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey on May 9.
The White House declined to comment on plans for a war room but said Trump will be looking to expand on momentum it believes it has built up during the presidents trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Europe. A White House official confirmed plans to hold more rallies.
The president has had an incredibly successful trip overseas and the White House looks forward to continuing an aggressive messaging strategy to highlight his agenda when we return to D.C., said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.
Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to Trump, will be involved in the new strategic messaging operation, as will Steve Bannon, another top adviser who specializes in managing Trumps populist appeal and shaping his political image, the sources said. Bannon and Trumps chief of staff, Reince Priebus, have been laying the groundwork for the plan this week, they added.
Corey Lewandowski, Trumps former campaign manager, is also expected to be part of the effort. Lewandowski, who has been seen in the White House recently, could join the administration as early as next week, a source close to him said.
This month, the Justice Department named Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, as an independent special counsel in the probe.
Trump has been frustrated of late that his communications team hasnt done a more effective job at making the case that he isnt implicated in the Russia probe and highlighting his administrations successes, sources close to the president said.
Another Republican close to the White House said the new team is taking a page out of former President Bill Clintons playbook. When Clinton faced impeachment in the late 1990s, he assembled a crisis-management operation that dealt with fallout from his affair with Monica Lewinsky while allowing the rest of the White House to deal with day-to-day policy matters.
Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax Media and a Trump friend, said he expects the president will travel more when he returns from overseas and encouraged the White House to focus on issues that pump up his base voters.
Trump has scheduled a political rally for next week in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The White House said other similar events are in the planning stages.
What we really want to be able to do is tend to our business, Mike Rounds, a Republican Senator from South Dakota, told Reuters. Weve got a healthcare bill were working on. Weve got tax reform that we think is important.
He talks when he shouldnt, he said.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason, Richard Cowan and James Oliphant. Additional reporting by Ginger Gibson and Roberta Rampton in Washington; Writing by James Oliphant; editing by Jason Szep and James Dalgleish)