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For many of us, the prospect of returning to our offices is but a distant point on the horizon. Personally, I’m not mad about it. I’m saving money and stress on my commute, and I don’t have to put on pants. It’s a win-win. The only downside is that back in March when we all started working from home, I, like many people, thought this would be a fun little three-week respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, so I did not invest in anything to make working from home more enjoyable long-term. Cut to, eight months later, and we’re still doing this. With the temperatures dropping and the possibility of even socially distant park hangs receding faster than daylight hours, it’s time to finally treat ourselves to some things we need but don’t actually need, now that we’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future. If you’re thinking, “maybe I shouldn’t drop $100 on tie-dye sweatpants that might not be in style next year,” fear not, because you can get that trendy piece without the side of guilt by using PayPal’s Pay in 4* solution. Pay in 4 lets you buy now and pay later when you pay with PayPal. You can split purchases into four interest-free payments, with the down payment due when you make the purchase, and the rest of the payments every two weeks after. You’ll see it when you check out at millions of retailers where PayPal is offered—just click PayPal as your payment option.
So with that in mind, it’s time for some retail therapy. Here are just some of the many, many things you can buy with PayPal’s Pay in 4 that will make WFH life that much better.
& Other Stories Oversized Wool Knit Hoodie, $129
You had me at “oversized” and “hoodie”. You can tell just by looking at this hoodie that it’s going to be softer than a cloud (I assume, never been on a cloud). With two colors available and matching joggers, this may be your new WFH uniform.
Aldo Reilly Lace-Up Boot, $140
So the reality is that at some point, you are going to have to go outside and face the elements, whether it be to buy groceries, pick up a prescription, take out the trash, etc. And when you do brave the outside world, you’ll want to do it in shoes that are stylish, comfortable, and durable. These combat boots are all those things, plus they’re made with sustainability in mind.
UGG Fluff Yeah Genuine Shearling Slingback Sandal, From $99.95
Is there any single item more suited for WFH life than these slipper-sandals? No. These are so comfortable since they’re made from genuine shearling, and they’re also amazingly fun. Like, being stuck in my apartment is immediately better if I’m trudging around in these platform fuzzy slipper slides.
Lululemon Navigation Stretch Down Vest, $168
Vests are back, baby, and not the weird plaid ones from the early 2000s that would make you cringe now. We’re talking comfort and style. This one will keep you warm and comes in a few neutral colors, so you can throw it over every long-sleeve shirt you own.
La Mer The Treatment Lotion, $115
You didn’t think we’d forget about skin care because we’re in quarantine, did you? On the contrary, that’s the only hobby I have now! So why not invest in this rich moisturizer from La Mer that’s paraben-, sulfate-, and phthalate-free? (No, I don’t know what phthalates are, but I assume they’re bad.) Anyway, this super hydrating cream moisturizes and optimizes your skin, which is going to be v necessary after spending hours curled up next to your heater.
Nike Sportswear Plush Faux Fur Blanket, $175
When all else fails, get yourself a super soft blanket to spend the entire winter wrapped in. This Nike one is made of the same fleece that’s used in their jackets, so you can finally take your jacket off inside the house. Now all you need is a fireplace to curl up in front of, and you’re set for life.
You made it through this many months of 2020, you deserve a lil’ treat. And with Pay in 4, you can treat yourself without feeling a huge hit to your bank account. Treat yourself in 4 easy installments.
* Pay in 4 is available upon approval on purchases from $30 – $600. Pay in 4 is not available to residents of Georgia, New Mexico, North Dakota, Missouri, South Dakota, Wisconsin, or any U.S. Territories. Loans to California residents are made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law License. Late fees may apply for missed payment depending on your state of residency. When applying a soft credit check may be needed, but will not affect your credit score. You must be of legal age in your state of residence to use Pay in 4. Offer availability also depends on the merchant.
I was minding my own business last night, watching old clips of The View and scrolling Instagram, when a hot tip popped up in my DMs. One of my Insta-BFFs Alex (@lexniko, she’s f*cking hilarious) sent me a side-by-side that almost made me fall out of my chair. It’s just…so stupid. Our beloved Jessica Alba, actress, model, and skin care mogul, made a hilarious mistake in her latest sponsored post, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
Here’s the post in question:
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I want my kids to be healthy, but let’s be honest cooking 3 healthy meals a day for 3 separate kids is … a lot! I don't shy away from doing the MOST but mamas got her limits. Regardless of our busy and sometimes hectic schedules, @culturelleprobiotics gives me peace of mind when it comes to supporting my kids' overall health and wellness with clean and trusted ingredients. #culturellepartner
If you can’t spot the issue, that’s because the issue isn’t anywhere in the actual photo. It’s just a normal ad for some probiotics, with Jessica posting in her kitchen with a nice array of products. Great natural lighting! She looks stunning! I might even buy some of the products! (I definitely won’t, but she doesn’t need to know that.) No, to spot the issue with this photo, we have to go back in time, all the way to 2018.
Enter: Kate Hudson. Last December, Kate announced that she was the latest brand ambassador for WW (formerly Weight Watchers). At the time, she had a two-month-old baby, so it made sense for her to share her post-baby journey with the WW audience. And of course, the partnership was launched with a beautiful photoshoot in Kate’s kitchen.
Except it wasn’t Kate’s kitchen. Look familiar? That’s because it’s the same f*cking kitchen that Jessica Alba is using for her probiotics spon. At the time Kate’s kitchen photoshoot came out, the pictures went mildly viral due to the absolutely insane arrangement of cutting boards behind her. Who has that many cutting boards?? Why are they so large?? How do you get one out without knocking over all the others? Truly so many questions, but Kate definitely doesn’t know the answers! She’s never cooked in that kitchen in her life!
It’s really no huge surprise that celebrities use studios or rented spaces to shoot some of their sponsored content, but this feels especially egregious. First, it’s an incredibly recognizable kitchen, especially with the slanted ceiling, exposed wood shelves, and once again, those wild cutting boards. But also, I feel like Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba must have a large amount of overlap in their audiences. They’re both 2000s actresses who have moved heavily into the lifestyle space, and their brands feel really similar. You’d think advertisers would want to be especially careful when planning these things. At least move the cutting boards!
Of course, this is far from the first time that a celebrity has made a careless error in posting sponsored content. This specific kitchen mixup reminded me of an instance with Melissa Joan Hart from last year. My girl Sabrina did some lunchmeat spon-con (bleak), and the company has two different brands. Instead of taking different photos for each one, Melissa posted the exact same photo, with the exact same food, and just switched out the placemats and packaging. You guys, it’s so bad.
Note: MJH posted these two photos BACK TO BACK on her feed. With the same caption! I have no idea who thought this was a good idea, but I still laugh every single time I look at these photos. Having worked with branded content, it’s honestly wild that the client approved this in the first place.
Another common issue that pops up with celebrity sponsored posts is the inability to figure out what to copy and paste. Basically, when you’re working with a brand, they’ll give you suggested copy to use for your caption, and there are usually some notes about what to add or change if you want to. Here’s an example of where RHONY’s Ramona Singer forgot to delete an entire paragraph:
You know it’s bad when you can’t even realize that the caption shouldn’t start with the words “here is the draft.” Ramona quickly figured this out and fixed it, but other celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Scott Disick have made the same mistake. This is truly just a careless thing to do, but it shows how little celebrities actually care about the products when they’re cashing major checks. 2019 is wild.
Jessica Alba probably has no idea that she’s posting in the same kitchen as Kate Hudson, and it’s honestly not even her problem. Someone else definitely booked the kitchen space for her, and they probably should have done a little more research. How am I supposed to think about probiotics when I can’t stop staring at those iconic cutting boards?! Either way, I’m sure she got a nice little paycheck from that photo, so good for her.
Images: jessicaalba, melissajoanhart, ramonasinger / Instagram; WW
At this point, we’re all pretty accustomed to celebrities doing sponsored posts on Instagram. At first, it seemed random and desperate for A-listers to be earning their paychecks over Instagram, but things have changed a lot. These days, even the biggest names are doing ads for everything from food products to lube, so not much throws me off anymore. But one #spon trend that’s always fascinating to me is the use of paparazzi photos as an advertising tool. If that phrase just shocked you, I’m sorry I disillusioned you, but it’s time to grow up. Paparazzi photos are not just random photos photographers capture of celebs in their natural habitat—they can often be used as promo.
I really feel like in 2019, paparazzi photos don’t get enough love. They were everywhere in the 2000s (think of all those classic Britney Spears photos), but the rise of social media changed the way we get our images of celebrities. Now, so many of them post their own photos that we don’t have to wait for them to go to the gas station barefoot to get a glimpse of what they’re up to. But paparazzi photos are still alive and well, and in the age of #spon, they often have deeper context than it first appears.
Now, both famous people and major brands have figured out how to take the standard paparazzi photo, and make it work for them. Rather than stars getting caught unaware without underwear on, we’ve entered an era of paparazzi pics as marketing gold. Whether by calling the paparazzi on themselves, carefully placing products in the photos, or fully staging fake pap pics, it’s all a complicated game to sell product. Nothing in life is really a coincidence, so let’s dive into the world of paparazzi photos as sponsored content.
What really got me thinking about all of this was this photo of Bella Hadid that JustJared posted on Instagram last week. At first glance, it’s just Bella, walking down the street in a typical ’90s throwback outfit. But look at how she’s holding the bag. That’s not how normal people hold bags. It’s important here to note that it’s very obviously a Michael Kors bag, and Bella is the star of this season’s Michael Kors ad campaign. Her face is literally plastered on the windows of every Michael Kors boutique in the world. Coincidence? No, I just told you there are no coincidences.
By itself, I might have seen this photo and just kept scrolling, but then I remembered something Bella Hadid had posted on her own Instagram. Here she is, in the exact same outfit, with the exact same bag. In her post, she name drops the bag, uses #ad, and uses the paid partnership tool. It’s very obvious that this is an ad for Michael Kors, and she’s checking all the boxes to make sure she’s not breaking any rules about disclosing a partnership.
But normally when you do a photoshoot for an ad, you would change back into your own clothes at the end, and just go about your day. Instead, Bella Hadid obviously brought the bag out on the streets of New York with her, and got photographed by the paparazzi while she was at it. This photo looks like an actual paparazzi photo, but I have a feeling they were tipped off about where Bella would be, and she made sure that the bag was clearly visible.
I’m not saying it’s not a cute bag, because sure, it’s not fugly, but I doubt a $298 bag plastered with the Michael Kors logo is what Bella Hadid would reach for on a normal night out.
While Bella Hadid’s paparazzi photo wasn’t fake, it definitely constitutes some careful product placement, and we know for a fact that she’s getting paid to be the face of Michael Kors. Another potential example of this kind of product placement was Ariana Grande with Starbucks last year. This was never confirmed as a paid partnership, but for months, basically every time she stepped out in public, Ariana was walking around with a Starbucks cup.
Again, I don’t know if Ariana was being paid for her iced coffee obsession, but I do know that homegirl made sure the logo was facing the camera at all times. That, along with the iconic green straw, makes it pretty tough to miss the fact that Ari just couldn’t get enough of her Starbucks. Does she not know about good coffee??
And also, just last week, Bella Thorne’s team tipped off the paparazzi on where she would be before her book signing, and she was very subtly holding the new book while being photographed. Mad respect, honestly.
Whether you realize it or not, it’s not super uncommon for celebrities to call the paparazzi on themselves. While someone like Beyoncé doesn’t need any help getting press coverage, there are lots of lower-level famous people who would kill to get their photos on TMZ. Exposure is valuable! For top stars, it can be annoying to have photographers around them everywhere they go; someone like Bella Thorne isn’t mad about the paparazzi helping her sell a few more books.
Moving on from the tasteful product placement, my actual favorite thing is when companies fully stage paparazzi-style photos. Sometimes it’s less obvious than others, but it’s always hilarious.
Case in point: this photo of Jenny McCarthy chilling by the pool with her Uncle Bud’s CBD skin care products.
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Actress & former Playboy Playmate @jennymccarthy seen moisturizing her skin with Uncle Bud’s new CBD skin care collection! As Seen In: @dailymail @usweekly @radaronline @okmagazine @hollywoodlife • • • • • www.unclebudshemp.com #hempstead #wellnessshot #mindfulnessmoments #cbdfrance #hempfood #naturaloilfinish #wellnesstip #positivitymatters #cbdwellness #mindfulnessreminders #wellnessholiday #naturaloilbar #hemper #plantaddictionisreal #cbdu #wellnesswarrior #plantaddictionproblems #cbdtopicals #cbdgummies #cbdforpets #mindfulnessbarcelona #healthylifestyle #hempbombs #positivitysquad #cbdhealth #wellnessevent #healthychoices #wellnessweek #cbdtherapy
How fun! How casual! How natural! It’s hilarious to imagine a paparazzi photographer taking these hi-res photos of Jenny McCarthy at her backyard pool, but that’s definitely not what happened here. These photos were written up in numerous tabloids, including The Daily Mail and Radar Online, so I’m a little suspicious. Jenny was obviously being paid for these very staged photos, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Uncle Bud’s also paid some of the tabloids to write about it. Not to be rude, but no one cares about Jenny McCarthy or CBD skin care, so I doubt all these publications would be clamoring to publish articles about this.
But whatever, Jenny McCarthy, get that check, and hopefully the CBD makes up for all those vaccinations you’re not getting.
Probably the most prolific example of fake paparazzi photos as #spon is Kim Kardashian, and specifically the ad campaigns for Kanye West’s Yeezy collection. Some of them feel more staged than others, but they’re more about a general aesthetic than actually fooling people. Take notes, Jenny McCarthy. Here’s Kim wearing a very weather-appropriate outfit on a 100-degree day in Calabasas.
Why is she walking past a gravel pit? Are there gravel pits in Calabasas? Does Kim know what gravel is? Many questions.
The best photo of the bunch is this one of Kim and a couple of her groupies just casually “running” on the beach. Barefoot. In matching outfits. And full hair and makeup. As we all do!
But without a doubt, the most iconic use of fake paparazzi photos was in January 2018, when the Yeezy Season 6 campaign featured numerous influencers and celebrities dressed up as “Kim Clones.” Nothing has ever brought me more pure joy as a gay man than seeing Paris Hilton dressed up in full Kim Kardashian drag. It’s glorious.
This is actually an incredible look for Paris, and if she ever decides to tone down her over-the-top outfits, this vibe would totally work for her.
Another set of Kim Clones were the Clermont Twins, who are some of my favorite people in the world. They first got famous by appearing on The Bad Girls Club, where they basically just yelled the whole time about how rich they are. Their Instagram is almost exclusively wild thirst traps in matching outfits, so they were a perfect choice for this campaign.
I could talk about the Clermont twins for days, but I’ll just say that currently Shannade is in prison for continuing to use her sugar daddy’s credit card for months after he died. Fully iconic.
What are your thoughts on celebrities calling the paparazzi on themselves? Is it desperate, or just a good tool for promotion? Personally, I don’t really mind it, and I think it’s a great opportunity for unintended comedy.
Images: Shutterstock; justjared, bellahadid, arianagrande, maikeeb_kills, unclebuds_hemp, kimkardashian (2), parishilton, clermonttwins / Instagram
It’s nothing new for celebrities to endorse products in exchange for large amounts of money. From the earliest days of radio, print, and TV advertising, famous people have done sponsorships with literally every product imaginable. But in the past few years, the rise of social media, particularly Instagram, has given way to a new model of celebrity endorsements. Now, anyone with more than a few thousand followers is considered an influencer, and their posts are up for grabs to the highest bidder. Naturally, people who are already famous are especially appealing to brands, and even many of the biggest names aren’t above a little #Spon here and there.
But not all sponsored posts are created equal. Whether the brands they’re shilling for are dumb, the posts are cringeworthy, or the deals just don’t make sense, here are some celebrities who could definitely cool it with the paid partnerships.
1. Selena Gomez
Until she was usurped by Ariana Grande earlier this year, Selena Gomez enjoyed a lengthy reign as the most-followed woman on Instagram. I like Selena a lot, but I really have never understood why her Instagram is such a phenomenon. She has long-term deals with brands like Coach and Puma, which are totally respectable, but she’s super unreliable about posting non-spons0red content. She’ll go full weeks without posting at all, only to drop like, three ads in a row.
Selena’s most recent album came out in 2015, so at this point Instagram ads might be her biggest source of revenue. As of last year, she was reportedly charging $800,000 for a single post, so I guess there’s not much incentive to record new music when you can just take a selfie in a bikini and make almost a million dollars. Still, it doesn’t make her very exciting to follow.
2. Kim Kardashian
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Guess who’s trying to be the family favorite… SUSHI!!!! Do your pets compete for attention when there’s a new ?? in the house?? Maybe she’s living a secret life?? What are your pets doing when you’re not at home? Tag @secretlifeofpets with your pets secret style. #ad #TheSecretLifeofPets2
This could really go for all of the Kardashians, but I’m choosing to focus on Kimberly today. As we all know, the Kardashians have built their massive empire without any major talent, so it’s not surprising that they turn to product endorsements to rake in the big bucks. I don’t have an issue with this, and it would be weird if the Kardashians suddenly stopped all their little businesses and projects. What’s strange, though, is when Kim or one of her sisters randomly posts an ad that really has nothing to do with anything else.
When Kim posts about her makeup, or her fragrances, or her sunglasses collaboration, that makes sense. But an ad for The Secret Life of Pets 2 that features her dog photoshopped into her outfit? I’m entertained, but I really don’t get the business strategy. I guess a check is a check, but I feel like at this point Kim could just say no to random stuff that doesn’t line up with her brand directly.
3. Sophie Turner
We all love Sophie Turner. She’s been a standout on Game of Thrones for years, and recently she’s really come into her own as a star with an amazing personality. She’s staring in the new X-Men movie, and she’s married to a Jonas Brother. Life is good. Which is why I don’t really get her recent endorsements for Wella, a hair color company. She seems like she’s on the way to a pretty awesome movie career, so this just feels unnecessary. It is kind of funny because both of her famous characters both have red hair, while in real life she’s super blonde. Idk, I just want more videos of her chugging wine at sporting events.
4. Bethenny Frankel
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Eating healthy is SO important to me. My health is a major priority. As a natural foods chef, I’ve built a career around health & wellness products which is why I LOVE being a #teamipartner and using @teamiblends! They just released their Greens powder, a unique blend of 16 superfood veggies. It’s perfect for those who want and need more greens in their diets (NOBODY eats 5-13 cups!) It’s so easy to incorporate into my busy lifestyle as a working mother, it has significantly improved my digestion, and I feel SO good and notice a difference! Use your favorite milk, ice, fruit, something sweet & blend until smooth & delicious! Get creative!!! I highly recommend you try it out. Im so excited to offer you 20% off using code BETHENNY at www.teamiblends.com. . . . #thankyouteami #xoteami #teamiworkmakesthedreamiwork #ad
This one really rubs me the wrong way. Reality stars are probably the number-one demographic for posting sponsored content on Instagram, so that’s not the issue here. But Bethenny Frankel is in a level above most of her Bravo costars. Back in 2011, Bethenny sold her Skinnygirl Cocktail company for an estimated $100 million, and she’s made plenty of money since then on her other Skinnygirl brands, not to mention the Real Housewives paycheck she gets every year. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t need the money.
But the bigger issue here is the product she’s advertising. Teami is a brand of detox tea that’s a favorite of lots of Bachelor and Vanderpump Rules cast members, but I don’t get why Bethenny has anything to do with them. She’s marketing herself as a natural foods chef, which is something I don’t think I’ve heard her say since about 201o. Because of her background in food, people are probably more likely to trust what she has to say, but this is definitely just a caption that Bethenny copy-pasted from the email Teami sent her. I’m thoroughly unimpressed.
5. Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lopez isn’t a major offender here, but I still have some questions. Lately, she’s been marketing her collaboration with athletic wear brand Niyama Sol. At least it’s her own line, but it’s still a little random. J.Lo stays constantly busy, with movies, concert tours, and TV gigs, so I feel like the yoga pants don’t need to be a top priority.
But even more questionable to me is JLo’s new line of sunglasses with Quay Australia. It’s pronounced “key,” because letters don’t make sense, but you probably know the brand from their multitude of partnerships with Bachelor contestants and other thirsty creatures of Instagram. I feel like JLo could’ve aimed a lot higher if she wanted a sunglasses deal. The woman has a net worth of $400 million, but I guess good for her for selling sports bras and sunglasses now.
6. Kristen Bell
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I’m so excited to help @AmericanExpress launch the newly refreshed #AmexBlueCashPreferred Card. #ad The Card is perfect for me because I’m rewarded for spending on some of my favorite things – food and tv shows! Seriously – you earn 6% Cash Back on select US streaming subscriptions (ahem, Veronica Mars on @hulu!) and 6% Cash Back at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases). So, I can make my favorite show inspired snacks, watch my fav shows AND earn Cash Back at the same time? Yes, please. Terms Apply. Click the link in my bio to learn more. #AmexAmbassador
Everyone loves Kristen Bell. She’s funny, she’s adorable, she seems super happy with her husband—what’s not to love! Oh, I found something. I don’t love this ad she posted for American Express. In general, I don’t feel like I need famous people to tell me what to do with my money. Just a hunch, but I feel like Kristen Bell and I have different needs when it comes to credit cards. Like, I have millions of dollars and am a movie star, but I’m sure Kristen is living paycheck to paycheck. Now, if this were an ad for the popcorn that she’s eating, I would be very interested.
Look, I get it, everyone loves easy money. But I miss the days when movie stars just did a car commercial every six months and called it a day. Leave the #spon to Bachelor rejects and girls with fashion blogs, okay?
Images: Shutterstock; selenagomez, kimkardashian, sophiet, bethennyfrankel, jlo, kristenanniebell / Instagram