THE DIGITAL IMPACT OF #RoyalWedding VS. #TheFerragnez
2018 saw two major moments in the world of weddings when the internet exploded with social coverage and community engagement. Firstly, on May 19th 2018, an international public watched as Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, a monumental moment in British royal history that brought a global audience together to celebrate that love can conquer all; just over a fortnight ago and we saw an even more digitally impactful moment with the marriage of super blogger Chiara Ferragni to her sweetheart Italian rapper Fedez, coming together harmoniously (read: ridiculously) as #TheFerragnez.
Undeniably, both events caused significant surges in internet activity: Google trends classified search terms associated with the big days as “Breakouts” on their index, and earned media value for brands involved reached, in some cases, record amounts. Now here at One Roof Social we’re all for supporting Influencer reign (pun fully intended), but we do think it’s always important to consider the deeper social impact of moments like these to determine to whom the trophy truly belongs. It’s clear that on looking at EMV alone, #TheFerragnez wedding was indeed more “successful”. However, the Royal Wedding by far triumphed in celebrating so much more than simply the glamorous products, brands and priceless merchandise on display.
There’s no poetic way to do this best, so let’s get down to business with a cross-comparison of each day’s social impact.
The Royal Wedding
#RoyalWedding accumulated around half a million posts on Instagram during the period from the 10th to the 20th of May 2018, with 418,000 of these published on the big day itself. Across this week, Meghan Duchess of Sussex, Royal Wedding, Lemon and Elderflower Cake, Claire Ptak, Stella McCartney and Philippa Craddock, to name a few, hit 100 on the Google Trends index and the top five most mentioned brands of the Royal Wedding, including @givenchyofficial, @stellamccartney, @clarewaightkeller, @mrkimjones and @philiptreacy gained cumulatively 500,000 followers and over 38 million likes, giving them an estimated EMV of around £5.75 million from this event alone. What’s more, searches for halter neck wedding dresses saw a 235% increase on Saturday evening and Sunday after the Duchess of Sussex stepped out in her evening number and even those not associated with dressing the Royals saw and previously unrecorded uplift in their own EMV. Take Dior Artistic Director Kim Jones, responsible for dressing David Beckham, who saw an EMV 50 times higher during the event, than throughout the week before the wedding. Consider the social media accounts of the Royals, both @kensingtonroyal and @theroyalfamily, who represent the younger royals and general family respectively; together they recorded over 1.5 million new followers and an EMV of almost £3 million.
Chiara Ferragni and Fedez
#TheFerragnez registered 25,000 posts in a four-day period which recorded a gargantuan £27.5 million EMV. Both Chiara and now-husband Fedez together hold 21.6 million followers, which earned them global engagement of 67 million interactions around the Influencer spectacle of the year. The three major brands to profit from the wedding were the super-blogger’s dressmakers, Dior and Prada, as well as beauty brand Lancôme, whose 1.3 million engagement from Chiara’s own post was a monumental moment for the French cosmetics house. Look to Google Trends and the once non-existent portmanteau “Ferragnez”, went from zero to 100 in just the two weeks leading up to the wedding, whilst Chiara Ferragni and Fedez both hit “Breakout” on that unforgettable wedding weekend.
Safe to say, looking at total EMV, #TheFerragnez triumphed, rocketing from individual heavyweight influencers to a combined force that delivered impressive results for all brands contributing to their day. However, look to the individuals involved, the designers behind the fashion houses and the bespoke creators of each day, and it’s clear that the Royal Wedding delivered much stronger to the individual than #TheFerragnez did to the masses. 100K followers to Dior is but a drop in the ocean for the brand, yet 125,000 users that quickly hit follow for Givenchy’s Artistic Director, Clare Waight Keller, gave momentous dual impact for the fashion house and the individual designer’s talent.
Social beyond the Feeds
But highlighting the individual isn’t just where we believe The Royal Wedding stole the show. While #TheFerragnez’s glamorous affair truly captured the attention of their audience and beyond, we can’t help but feel that the attention was solely focused on just that: the indulgence and opulence of the Italian sweethearts’ love story. No expense was spared (although much was sponsored) and though Dior and Prada report unprecedented engagement, how much of this is simply vanity metrics and no more helpful than a poorly targeted performance marketing campaign? Surely an Influencer whose wealth only relates to a minority tier of population can’t really convert engagement on her wedding day into substantial conversion? For association, it’s a resounding success, but for much more, we can’t help but feel it was too insular for impact.
Compare this to The Royal Wedding and though again no expense was spared, and indeed it was from the taxpayer’s money, there was much wider significance in the royal couple’s matrimony. From an audience engagement perspective, the demographic cross-section involved a greater diversity of population, in age, race and background. They sought to celebrate British brands and designers, raising the flag for these as individuals as well as collective brands. What’s more, this was a key moment for empowerment, not just for women but in terms of race, with the now-Duchess of Sussex being the first bi-racial woman to marry into the British Royal family. In the least condescending way possible, this was a historical mark of progress for the Monarchy and social engagement was but a fraction of the evidence to represent the celebration of this advancement.
Now we’re not waving the Royal’s moral high ground flag in the face of The Ferragnez, but we are suggesting that for digital impact to really be, well impactful, it has to go beyond its digital playground and reverberate into society to actually produce the tangible effect its EMV supposedly suggests. For want of a better metaphor, we see The Ferragnez as the trailer and The Royal Wedding as the full feature-length film.
A Declaration Denial
Then comes the question of declaration and the outright audacity of the luxury sector to take it into its own hands with the hashtag #suppliedby. This hasn’t gone unnoticed and if you go back on all of Chiara’s posts from the wedding, you’ll see #advertising has miraculously appeared. Why? Because #suppliedbyDior and #suppliedbyPrada, means, in the eyes of the FTC and ASA, absolutely nothing when it’s not being universally used in the landscape. The call-out for a clear set of guidelines from the authorities has never been more in demand and until they get their act together, we’re going to be constantly challenged by those who place their reputation above regulation. Ironic.
As the Royals don’t have their own individual social media accounts, and would never contractually agree any content, simply because there just isn’t the need for an event of this international significance, declaration isn’t really relevant here to a couple of this status…
Yet The Ferragnez’s murky declaration approach, though frustrating, begs a more profound question regarding the state of Influencer Marketing: why would, or even should, we frown upon Influencers, of whatever size, using their wedding or any such event, as a lucrative opportunity? Speaking frankly, we’re convinced that millions of brides would jump at the chance to have their wedding dress and transport comped. There’s no doubt that Chiara is an intelligent business woman who has built her world how she wants it – to live her life as an Influencer, fashion designer and public figure who should be able to proudly say she’s achieved success. So why hide it?
What we feel this really boils down to is the continued conflict between brands, Influencers and their audiences struggling to truly accept the presence of advertising when, ironically, they’re told about it. Again we highlight that it’s as present, if not more so, in other forms of media such as print and television, but the declaration just simply isn’t demanded. What that means is that the latest, boldest, most lash-lengthening mascara you see recommended to you as the Editor’s picks probably has come with a little kickback to get it there… and yet you’re none the wiser.
Social media is the first time an advertising landscape orientated around transparency has surfaced, serving to educate the consumer through differentiating between organic and paid media placed on the platforms. Through well-conceived and executed campaigns, using authentic and appropriate talent, this advertising should sit as seamlessly alongside their organic content as a paid placement in a magazine or a presenter’s outfit on their daily slot; the principal difference here is that on social media, correct declaration allows the audience to actively engage rather than unsuspectingly absorb.