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SATC exposed for paying celebrities to tweet about Kangaroo Island
The ABC's Media Watch has exposed the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) for paying celebrities to 'tweet' positive things about Kangaroo Island.
The ABC show revealed that celebrities including celebrity chef Matt Moran, Australian idol contestant Shannon Noll and TV presenter Sophie Falkiner have been paid to lure fans and followers to the destination through their twitter accounts.
The revelation comes one month after SATC launched a TV-led advertising campaign for Kangaroo Island, created by Adelaide agency KWP!.
MediaWatch came across an email circulated from a publicist, which read "I have been contacted by South Australian Tourism and they are looking for high profile celebrities with a high twitter following to tweet about Kangaroo Island. They will pay $750 plus GST for one tweet. They don't want to tweet to appear endorsed, rather an organic mention, injecting your own personality into the tweet."
In an email to Media Watch, SATC Marketing and Communications Director David O'Loughlin confirmed the body was using "influencers" in the promotion of South Australian tourism products and that this was "considered a legitimate marketing tool."
O'Loughlin added "this is a typical product placement strategy that is emerging throughout the online world and we are talking full advantage of it as a viable media channel."
Media watch reported that paying for tweets was not new, with major celebrities in the United States able to command fees of thousands of dollars for a single tweet.
John Baker, from the SATC's advertising agency, KWP, told the program that there was "a blurring line in social media", adding "(many) celebrities ... are a commercial brand in their own right, it's not like we were recruiting everyday people to endorse Kangaroo Island."
Celebrity tweets about Kangaroo Island included:
"All this moving and dancing training! I think I need a break! I heard Kangaroo Island is awesome. Thoughts anyone?" - Shannon Noll, @NOLLSIE, 27th March 2012
"Bring on Kangaroo Island. Saw the TV ad last night and makes me wish I was visiting sooner rather than later." - Matt Moran, @chefmattmoran, 28th March 2012
Stung by criticism over the performance of the SATC, in March, the South Australian Government began a restructuring of the Commission in order to achieve $1.2 million per year in savings.
2nd March 2012 - SA GOVERNMENT TO RESTRUCTURE STATE TOURISM BOARD
24th June 2009 - KANGAROO ISLAND A ‘NATIONAL LANDSCAPE’
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