A “lifestyle blogger” is trying to explain her actions after facing a backlash online for having a photographer friend document her motorcycle accident. The images drew particular criticism for appearing to have product placement with bottles of branded water placed in shot.
Based in Nashville, Tiffany Mitchell has over 211,000 followers on Instagram. She had a photographer friend traveling with her when she fell victim to a motorcycle accident that left her with some scrapes. Despite the incident, the photographer continued to take snaps, which Mitchell later uploaded to her Instagram page. In some of the dramatic photos, Mitchell is seen lying on the road receiving help, seemingly in pain. However, some of the photos also feature some conveniently-placed bottles of Smartwater.
She has since told BuzzFeed News she “would never turn a very important personal story like this into a brand campaign,” and that she is sad people feel that way. She also asked them not to cover the story, because of the negative press it would receive.
Commenters were of course vocal about their feelings on the posts, making the observation it was “weird” to post professional grade images of an allegedly real accident. Of course, others were skeptical about just how genuine the images were. Mitchell claims she had no idea her friend was still snapping after the accident occurred. Quite how the water bottles made it to such a prominent spot of the photo remains unknown.
The posts prompted Smartwater to make contact with BuzzFeed News, to confirm they had no ongoing sponsorship with her. Quite bizarre, then, that their bottles should feature so prominently. Product placement has, over recent years, become increasingly common, particularly in the era of the influencer. Many influencers have continually proven just how desperate they are to appear popular, and as if they have many sponsors, and you couldn’t be blamed for suspecting Mitchell of trying to stage the photo as if to make it appear to be a sponsored post. As many commenters were keen to point out, both her bike and her helmet change between the before and after pictures.
The whole scenario feels at best opportunistic, and at worst conniving. Either way, that a road collision can be considered a photo opportunity is alarming, and only further cements the lengths influencers are willing to go to in order to further their careers.