Earlier today, I wrote about what I thought would be the last crazy influencer scandal of the year. It is December 18, after all. That story had everything: guns, prison sentences, and petty disputes over web domains. It seemed like the perfect way to close out a year of influencers generally being the worst. But, reader, I SPOKE. TOO. SOON. Lo and behold, we have another story that is almost hard to believe, except for the fact that I literally wouldn’t put anything past influencers anymore.
There are certain things in this world that we should just know not to believe. Things like “I’m not like other guys,” or “I will definitely pull out” come to mind, but this should also definitely be applied to influencers telling us that they only endorse products they really believe in, or even use at all. Sorry, Khloé Kardashian, but no one buys that you achieved a total body transformation through a regimen of diarrhea tea and waist trainers. The BBC apparently doesn’t trust influencers’ promises about the products they shill either, so they decided to pull a little sting operation to expose their shady ways.
On the most recent episode of Blindboy Undestroys the World, which is basically like Punk’d, but with social justice undertones, three reality TV personalities were dragged into a situation that they’re definitely regretting right now. Lauren Goodger and Mike Hassini (from The Only Way Is Essex—basically the British version of The Hills), along with Zara Holland (from Love Island), were all approached about doing ads for a weight loss beverage that was literally poisonous, and they all said yes. Yeah, it’s a big ol’ yikes.
The drink (which doesn’t actually exist) was called Cyonora, and was alleged to contain hydrogen cyanide, which is literally like, the most famous poison. Despite the ingredient being specifically highlighted, both on the label and in the ad copy, none of our three influencers in question had any qualms about shilling for the drink. When asked about promoting the drink, they were told that the product was still in development, and that they wouldn’t “be able to drink it until it’s launched.” Mike Hassini said that was “absolutely fine,” and Zara said that it’s “not a problem,” despite her agent clarifying that she wouldn’t lie to promote the product. Good for the agent, but clearly these people don’t give a sh*t.
Lauren’s agent clearly wasn’t concerned about lying, saying directly that “Half these posts you see that people do, they’re not even trying them half the time anyway.” So would that amount to… a quarter of the time? The interviewer then double checked that it wouldn’t be a problem for Lauren to promote a drink she hadn’t tried, and she just shook her head. Lauren is probably the worst offender here. After agreeing to do the Cyonora promotion, she willingly shared that she had never tried Skinny Coffee, another weight loss product she promoted earlier this year. She claimed on social media to have lost weight by drinking Skinny Coffee, and said friends messaged her asking if it really worked. She seemed surprised anyone would even believe she actually used it, saying she told her friends, “Do you not know this by now?”
Lauren’s agent did ask for clarification about the ingredients in Cyonora, saying she had received backlash over Skinny Coffee because of the laxatives in the drink. But asking isn’t the same thing as actually caring, it doesn’t really seem like Lauren cared. After being told about the ingredients (aka cyanide), Lauren—along with Zara and Mike—still taped a practice run of an ad script which contained multiple mentions of the LITERAL CYANIDE in the drink.
In the wake of the show airing, these morons obviously tried to cover their asses, and Lauren and Zara’s reps both spoke to BuzzFeed News about how they were misrepresented on the show. Zara, in a classic move, blamed the editors, saying that the “full edit” wasn’t shown, and that she claims to “only promote products that I have tried first and know a lot of detail about them.” But just like any reality show, the editors can’t literally put words in her mouth, and Zara said she would promote the drink without trying it!
Lauren’s rep issued a similar statement, saying that “proper checks would have been made” if she was actually going to promote the product. As for not raising more concerns when reading the script with the CYANIDE references, Lauren said that “As with any audition you people please and say what they want to hear.” HA. Sorry, but reading a line the way the director asked and not asking why a weight loss drink has poison in it are not the same thing!!
Overall, it’s impossible to know if these people would have actually gone through with knowingly promoting cyanide juice, but their behavior on camera doesn’t exactly instill confidence that influencers are being thorough with vetting the products they make money off of claiming to use. This is disappointing, but it’s zero percent surprising—if we know anything by now, it’s that we should expect nothing from these people. They’re mostly clowns doing their best to avoid having to get real jobs, and if cyanide juice is willing to cut them a hefty check, they’re not going to ask a lot of questions.
If you’re the kind of person who is still buying products based on influencer recommendations, you should probably be a little more careful. Of course, some things aren’t harmful, or could even be beneficial, but the weight loss drinks are just never going to work the way you want them to. Sorry, but you should know this by now!
Images: laurengoodger, zaraholland / Instagram; Skinny Coffee Club