Instagram: The New Era of Advertising

Everyday millions of Instagram users spend hours scrolling through their smart phones to view filtered photos, typically those that they “follow” or come across through #hashtags. According to the brand’s website, there are currently 150 million users, 60 billion photos uploaded, and an average of 1.2 million “likes” per day.  (website: As consumers, it is understood that these photos are a reflection of such users “brands”, and the photos they choose to share are typically selected and edited to portray a desired image of themselves. Whether it’s goods they just purchased, activities they partake in, or flattering photos of themselves, Instagram gives consumers the opportunity to advertise their individuality for free.

Aside from everyday consumers trying to convey an image of themselves, products, celebrities, and other organizations are able to use this platform to brand themselves however they choose. In some cases, celebrities intertwine their “brand” with a product or service that they endorse. For example, singer Ellie Goulding, who recently became an advocate and endorser for “Nike” products, shares several photos of her outlandish lifestyle to all 2.3 million followers.. Known for her eccentric, hip, and alternative style, Goulding also posts photos of herself in her athletic gear, where there is always a “Nike’’ logo.

Within IMC, it is understood that there are both controlled and uncontrolled messages. Advertising is a a controlled and planned message that is executed through a particular medium to reach target audiences. The “Nike” brand is consistently advertised through Goulding’s photos, however, Nike does not have control over which photos she captures. It seems as though Nike and Ellie Goulding have a sort of symbiotic relationship right now, with Ellie promoting Nike products and Nike in turn supporting/promoting Ellie’s Music.

“Nike and recording artist Ellie Goulding are releasing an exclusive remix album from Goulding’s second album, “Halcyon,” to inspire the thousands of women joining Ellie to run 13.1 miles on April 28.” (Nike inc.)

It is important to note however that Ellie is not an employee of Nike and that while it may be in her best interest to safeguard their relationship could she inadvertantly tarnish the Nike brand without being aware of it? This raises an important question: How much control do companies have over the “brand” that their endorsers convey? In the meantime however the relationship between the two will most likely prove beneficial for both parties as many fans of Goulding follows her on her Instagram page. Will it soon become commonplace for all celebrities to endorse particular products in exchange for publicity of their own?

This social media phenomenon has given advertisers a plentitude of opportunities to shape and select their brand image, and then after share it in a “likeable” manner.

-Austin Johnson, Jade Lester, Jami Rogers, Ty Thomas

14 thoughts on “Instagram: The New Era of Advertising

  1. Instagram has only recently entered my life. I was reluctant to create an account due to the fear of becoming consumed by social media. However, I finally gave in two months ago and created an Instagram account. After creating my Instagram account, I quickly noticed how Instagram is aiding in developing an individual’s brand. People typically only post the images that they feel best define themselves, whether this is accurate or inaccurate. Images are posted with photo filters to make them look even better in hopes of gaining “likes,” which in today’s media driven society often indicate popularity or value. Celebrity endorsement of brands on Instagram brings the idea of creating an image to a new level. Not only is the celebrity altering their own brand, but they are altering the narrative of the brand they choose to endorse. I feel that the celebrity endorsement of a particular brand begins with good intentions, which often highlights a positive reputation of a brand. However, I feel that celebrity endorsement of a brand can get messy if things are not properly controlled. For example, imagine that Ellie Goulding becomes dissatisfied with Nike and loses her trust for that brand. She could begin posting pictures to Instagram depicting Nike in a negative light. The pictures she posts could potentially cause all of her fans to lose trust in Nike because they value her opinion. If brands are going to be endorsed by celebrities, there needs to be regulatory practices in place. A mutual trust and agreement must be constructed between the celebrity and the brand they are endorsing to ensure that both parties benefit from the relationship.


  2. I absolutely love Instagram, and I use it almost every day. IMC I now understand the manner in which companies, organizations, and people brand themselves, and I agree that Instagram is a new channel in which to do this. I am aware of how my posts are branding my identity and promoting other organizations and companies’ brands. For example, I have posted two photos of peanut butter hot chocolate this past semester and I praise The Blue Surf Café for this delightful drink. I also have two photos of my meals at Flaming Amy’s Bowl, which I also praise for its deliciousness and quality of food. These posts represent my brand and I am, for free, marketing Blue Surf Café and Flaming Amy’s Bowl for them on Instagram. I realize that I am participating in integrated marketing communication, and I am ok with it.

    In terms of Ellie Goulding and Nike, I think it is very common for celebrities to endorse products for free, and for the products to endorse them. Instagram is just another channel to do that. I am not sure if Nike has a contract with Goulding or not. If there is one, there is definitely a level of control that Nike has for Goulding to promote the brand. However, either way Goulding ultimately chooses how she wears the brand, what she does in the brand, and how she communicates the brand when she wears Nike in her every day life. I bet it is understood between Nike and Goulding that she is to promote the brand well, however if there is not a contract that doesn’t mean she necessarily has to. Carrie Underwood promotes Vitamin Water, and I have seen a few Instagrams of her promoting the product as I have with Blue Surf Café and Flaming Amy’s Bowl. I believe more and more celebrities will work symbiotically with brands through social media.

  3. I found your post to be very interesting. I have noticed certain celebrities I follow on Instagram will constantly post pictures of products, and it caused me to wonder if these celebrities are in fact affiliated with the brands. I like how you included Ellie Goulding and Nike as an example because I was actually wondering if she was affiliated with Nike because of these Instagram posts I have seen previously while scrolling through my feed. Although I understand why celebrities are doing this, it can get a little annoying when they are constantly endorsing these brands!

  4. I found this article to be particularly interesting because I am a fan of Ellie Goulding and I follow her on Instagram. I have never noticed her part in endorsing for Nike, but now that I am aware, I definitely see the connection. It is interesting to me about their partnership and the possibility of Goulding damaging Nike’s brand. I never thought about the consequences Nike might face if Goulding puts up a picture that might not do the brand well. The risks both parties take by entering this partnership are something I have never thought about, but they are so relevant in so many endorsements that I am aware of. The lack of control that Nike has over what Goulding posts concerning their brand is to me the biggest risk. Overall, I find it very beneficial for two huge brands to work together and create a powerful partnership.

  5. I did not realize it before, but after reading this, I see just how many of the accounts I follow on Instagram utilize this technique. I follow several bloggers on Instagram and I have noticed on certain photos they capture, they will comment under them “I am not a paid sponsor” or other comments that basically say “I love this product but I am not a paid advertiser/endorser.” This makes me wonder if the posts they do not put that under are in fact endorsements and they are sponsors of that particular brand. I found the reference of Ellie Goulding and Nike to be similar to those on my newsfeed. I know certain bloggers receive things from companies to review, but when you receive free merchandise from these companies, it is rare that you are going to say anything negative about that brand. This is where it gets tricky because you wonder whether or not you can trust that particular product and brand. It can also be both helpful and hurtful to have a celebrity endorse your particular brand. If your customers are already purchasing your merchandise but do not like your particular celebrity endorsement, you could possibly lose customers. It can also go the opposite way, if someone sees their favorite recording artist wearing Nike, they might go out and purchase Nike.

  6. Since watching “Generation Like” I have been more aware of the fact that the endless loop is everywhere! Yes Ellie Goulding has a relationship with Nike and therefore they both gain publicity in more ways than one. If Ellie posts a picture of a cute workout outfit most of her viewers who appreciate her style will want to dress like her, and they will most likely post pictures of their outfits (including Nike apparel) and in the hopes of being noticed by Ellie they are likely to tag her instagram in their post, as a result everyone who follows them will see the post and if they like the outfit and want to see the inspiration for it they too will follow Ellie… as well as start posting pictures of their cute workout outfits. By supporting eachother both NIke and Ellie are inspiring viewers and followers to represent their brands as well, and they get that publicity for free!

  7. It is a really interesting point you bring up about Ellie Goulding and Nike having somewhat of a symbiotic relationship through branding. While there may be a some risk factors in this decision for Ellie (perhaps losing fans who do not like Nike), I believe Nike is taking a much bigger risk in that situation. Ellie Goulding isn’t known to be crazy, do drugs, and participate in other illegal activities–which I’m sure is a big reason why Nike chose her–but it is still a scary thought that a pop star in general is promoting your brand through uncontrolled advertising via Instagram. I’m not saying whatsoever that I think Ellie will damage the Nike brand, but it is certainly a scenario to consider.

    I applaud Nike for taking that risk and trusting a very popular singer in this way. I also applaud Ellie for not only being an admirable person, but supporting Nike and being trustworthy while doing it.

  8. I think that it is smart that clothing brands are using celebrities to wear their brand name clothes on Instagram and other social media sites for their fans to see. This gives advertising to their brand without the consumer knowing that they are being advertised to. If people follow a certain athlete or star, and they see them wearing a brand, they are more likely to purchase that brand to wear themselves. Another plus to this type of advertising is people get to see different styles and looks of clothing that the company makes. I would think this type of advertising would create a lot of company awareness.

  9. I really enjoyed reading your article because I happen to be one of Ellie Goulding’s 2.3 millions followers and see her support of this brand frequently! Like you stated, although their support of one another can be beneficial it could also hurt either of the two as well. The aspect of uncontrolled media plays a factor in this due to Nike not neccesarily having total control of what Ellie posts to endorse this company on her Instagram. Nike is taking a big risk with this however, it would also not be a smart move on Ellie’s part to somehow hurt their company when they are supporting her as well. It is getting more and more popular for celebrities to endorse particular products in exchange for publicity because it works. Nike is a huge brand and company across the globe and by having Ellie’s face and music come into mind with it, she is given the chance to gain a lot more fans than she would without their support. With the success of this relationship and a lot of the others today, celebrities and brand relationships will definitely become more popular and a lot easier with the amount of media like Instagram that we all have access to.

  10. Ellie Goulding is not the first and most certainly will not be the last celebrity to endorse a brand. However the way the brand is being seeing may be different than years past. Living in a world where media is the most common connection between people, I am not surprised that celebrities like Goulding are doing their end of the deal through a media outlet such as instagram. Its reaches the most viewer in the quickest amount of time .This also goes back to “the endless loop”. Both parties are benefiting by working together. I do believe that this will become more and more popular for both celebrities and companies because of how well it works. However companies such as Nike are taking a major risk when putting the reputation of there brand into the hands of a 20 year old pop star with a smart phone.

  11. llie Goulding is not the first and most certainly will not be the last celebrity to endorse a brand. However the way the brand is being seeing may be different than years past. Living in a world where media is the most common connection between people, I am not surprised that celebrities like Goulding are doing their end of the deal through a media outlet such as instagram. Its reaches the most viewer in the quickest amount of time .This also goes back to “the endless loop”. Both parties are benefiting by working together. I do believe that this will become more and more popular for both celebrities and companies because of how well it works. However companies such as Nike are taking a major risk when putting the reputation of there brand into the hands of a 20 year old pop star with a smart phone.

  12. It is interesting how just posting a picture of yourself wearing or doing something can promote a brand. Ellie Goulding and Nike working together to promote each other is a really great thing, but I do think that it can is taking some risks when it comes to not having a contract. Although Ellie is has not done anything to put her in a bad light, there is always the possibility that she could which would then reflect on Nike. Same goes for the other way around. I know that some people do not support Nike because of the young workers who have long hours and small wages. She risks losing fans by promoting Nike as well. It’s crazy how everything you post about yourself can effect the way people think of you and ultimately shape your brand.

  13. I am a frequent Instagram user and really enjoy the concept of the app. It is simple, yet still very entertaining to be able to post pictures and instantly receive “likes”. It is no secret that to get more of these likes, you need a large following of users. The people with a large following typically have a distinct brand that they represent or portray. I have noticed a significant rise in the development and promotion of brands on Instagram, whether it is personal or commercial. I feel that it is a great way for brands, like Nike, to get extra attention and basically free marketing. It is also nice that brands and celebrities can form mutually beneficial relationships, like Nike and Ellie. I think this will allow brands to be seen by different audiences and hopefully help them create a positive, collaborative image. In regards to a brand being tarnished by an endorser, I don’t think Nike has to worry about that with Ellie, but it could certainly be a possibility in many cases. The endorsers are not employees; therefore there is not much control the brand can have over the messages being portrayed. I do believe that this practice of endorsing a brand in return for publicity will become more popular, especially with how easy this is made by social media.

  14. With your questions as to how much control does the brand or brands really have over singers, actors, or athletes is a very good question and I’m sure a huge concern of theirs. The have a image that they spend millions on to create, promote, and market and when they tie their brand name with a certain individual they select that person with extreme thought and caution and hope that they promote their brand in such a way that gets them recognized with other demographics that they have yet to reach. They really have no control, what they have a set boundaries that are defined to each individual that they team up with and then they hope that those people promote their brand in such a way that keeps a good relationship between them all the while selling their product. Another question that was brought up was whether or not Instagram will become a common place for celebrities to endorse their products? Yes, without a doubt I believe this will a place where they can promote their products and others products, It already it but It will only become more so, maybe even to the point that Instagram feels it is too much free advertising and should reep some of their benefits.

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