A restaurateur is stirring a major online debate after calling out a group of social media influencers who asked him for free food.
Brian Campbell owns Miann, a dessert restaurant and pastry shop in Auckland, New Zealand. The business owner told BuzzFeed News that his restaurant, which was closed for several weeks amid the country’s lockdown, began opening for online orders during the week of April 20.
Later that week, Campbell began updating his company’s website to tell customers he was open for business again. Almost immediately, he started receiving messages from social media influencers asking to “collab” with his shop.
Those messages, which totaled to at least six in a single day, essentially amounted to requests for free food. In exchange, the influencers said they would promote Miann online.
Campbell was not pleased by that idea, and on April 24 he shared a message on Instagram, calling out the users who had asked him for “free products.”
“PLEASE STOP FOR A SECOND AND THINK, Think about the Restauranters, food producers that have had ZERO income for a month, the possibility of 50% drop in revenue for the next few months,” Campbell wrote. “Think about the PEOPLE whom you are asking for stuff for free from, to boost your own profile.”
In his photo caption, Campbell additionally told the “influencers” to “jog the f*** on.” He later added a second post, sharing screenshots of responses from other Instagram users.
Many of those commenters were incredibly supportive of Campbell, calling the influencers’ requests “shameful” and demanding that they support local businesses with their wallets, not their followers.
“This is not OK. Firstly, who do you think you are?” one of the responses asked of the influencers.
Still, not everyone was as outraged. Some users argued that influencers provide advertising for restaurants, which ultimately helps their business.
“The reason most companies do well is because of influencers promoting them for free, most of the time, and advertising for them,” one user wrote.
But Campbell says the response has been largely positive, telling BuzzFeed News that other industry professionals have reached out to thank him.
“People in the industry are being like ‘thank f*** someone spoke up’ and just general customers [have been] asking if these requests really happen,” he said. “A lot of positivity about this.”
If you liked this story, check out In The Know’s article on the influencer who broke down on TikTok after losing social media followers.
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