Nurse prescriber Khatra Paterson highlights issues around using celebrity images for clinic marketing
Over the last decade, social media has become an integral part of people’s lives, which has not only allowed businesses to reach a wider audience through social media marketing, but it has also given us more access into the daily lives of celebrities.
Following celebrities on social media can increase the emotional connection with them, leading the public to feel as though they are a part of the celebrities’ lives and being influenced by their activities.
Sharing celebrity images can help clinics to increase visibility and engagement on social media, as they present a recognisable face to followers. When done ethically and correctly, this can help followers understand how a celebrity has enhanced their features using aesthetic treatments.
However, I am noticing several issues when it comes to using celebrities in marketing, which I detail in this article and explain what I believe can be done to ensure we are doing the best by our patients.
Problems with sharing celebrity images
Celebrity patients who are happy to share their treatments on social media can help clinics gain the trust of followers. Patients are able to see what results can be achieved when clinics caption the picture with a breakdown of the treatment the celebrity has had, along with the benefits of having them, thus educating our audience.
I treat a number of celebrities; some of who choose to keep their treatments confidential. I respect their wishes, but have seen other clinics guessing the treatments my celebrity patient has had done, of which they have been totally wrong.
In my opinion this cannot only cause distress for the celebrity, but it also completely misleads future patients, making it more difficult to meet their expectations. Unless a celebrity has publicly spoken about or confirmed the treatments they have had, I believe we should avoid sharing images that imply what you think they may have had done for risk of being wrong.
I see many clinics that share pictures of a celebrity aged 18 and then aged 28, implying or assuming that they have had filler in their cheeks and jawline to improve definition. However, the reality may be that the celebrity has simply lost her puppy fat. Weight loss, makeup and good lighting can help create a noticeable difference, meaning their change in appearance may not be down to cosmetic interventions at all.
As an example, images of The Duchess of Cambridge and discussion around the treatments she has had are rife among clinics, which has garnered press attention.1 Often, the photographs don’t even offer a direct comparison; they have been taken years apart and show The Duchess with and without makeup. In my opinion, using them in this way is wrong.
Certainly, the demand and popularity of aesthetic treatments, particularly amongst millennials, has been increased by social media images such as those from the Kardashian-Jenner family – the use of their images are extremely common. However, when similar results cannot be achieved with the so-called ‘Kylie Package’ of 5mls of filler to contour the cheeks, sharpen the jawline and extend the chin, we are misleading the consumer. The General Medical Council guidelines state that you must not mislead the public on the results you are likely to achieve and you must not falsely claim or imply that certain results are guaranteed from an intervention.2 As practitioners, we cannot make individuals look or resemble anyone else but the best version of themselves. Two advertisements promoting the ‘Kyler Jenner package’ were recently banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for this reason.3,4
So, what’s the solution?
Generally, practitioners need to become familiar with the Committee of Advertising Practice’s guidelines for their marketing.5,6
When it comes to celebrities and influencers, I encourage my fellow aesthetic practitioners to only use them to educate the public on safe and ethical treatments by having honesty and integrity with everything you do. This means crediting the clinic who has treated them (if it isn’t you) and making sure you are clearly advising your audience of the true treatments that have been carried out. Don’t ever assume or use an image to your own advantage at the detriment to others. Remember that your role is to protect your patients by advising them of the best treatment, if any, for them.
The public is becoming more aware of the role of celebrities and their influence, so if you are wanting to use images of celebrities, then I advise to not only ensure you have a true understanding of treatments, if any, to achieve the results shown but to consider copyright rules before sharing another’s images.7 Also, if it’s your own work then you can add your logo to the image before sharing online so that people know that it’s yours.
If a celebrity talks publically about how good or flawless their skin is looking, then you can comment on this and explain how you can help your patients with the services you offer. Alternatively, you could use an image of a celebrity with glowing skin and let your followers know how they could also achieve better skin health rather than guessing or implying you know what the celebrity has had done.
Whenever you share anything online, remember once it is posted it can be screenshot and shared. Getting it wrong can create repercussions not only for your reputation, but also for your potential future relationships with celebrities.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council encourages us to protect our professionalism with this advice: ‘If you are unsure whether something you post online could compromise your professionalism or your reputation, you should think about what the information means for you in practice and how it affects your responsibility to keep to the Code’.8
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