Fashion influencer labelled as tone deaf for telling viewers she’s off to top hotel because her boiler is broken
This week Lydia Millen, fashion, fitness, and lifestyle influencer got into hot water - over cold water. Or rather the creator posted a tone-deaf video to TikTok explaining that she was forced to decamp to a London five star hotel because her boiler was broken at home.
Millen started her TikTok saying “the heating is currently broken in my house. So I'm heading down to London. I'm checking into the Savoy and I'm going to make full use of their wonderful hot water.”
Millen then walked viewers through her wardrobe of the day which appeared to come straight from the pages of the 1982 Sloane Ranger’s Handbook and included: a Seraphina London blackwatch tartan dress and a pair of Christian Louboutin boots which retail at £1,295.
The influencer ended her video with the call to action: “Let me know what you think in the comments.” And viewers did! Millen’s comments were soon filled with social media users infuriated by her lack of empathy.
TikTok user Nicci commented: “and here’s me, the heatings off BECAUSE I CANT AFFORD TO PUT IT ON.” Instead of taking a moment of pause to reflect and to consider her position of privilege Lydia Millen doubled down and responded: “My heart breaks too it’s honestly heart breaking I just hope you know that other people’s realities can be different and that’s not wrong X”.
Rising food and energy costs have driven UK inflation to a 40-year high. Electricity prices have increased by 45% and Gas prices increased by 84%. People don’t want to have inequalities shoved in their faces. As some viewers debate whether to ‘eat or heat’ they don’t want to see influencers carrying handbags valued up to £18,000 and swan-ing off for freebies at top hotels. Lydia Millen might argue that she knows her audience. The people who follower her TikTok, YouTube and Instagram accounts no doubt follow her for aspirational lifestyle and fashion tips or for escapism. Presumably these social media users aren’t on the breadline.
As algorithms driving social media platforms shift from the social graph to the content graph content inevitably gets served to viewers who are not subscribers or followers of that account.
Luxury brands continue to advertise during these economic headwinds. Traditional publications including Vogue, Tatler and GQ continue to carry advertisements for high-end products. Promoting is not the same as flaunting. Brands seeking to work with influencers during a recession must ensure their messages are empathetic. Both tone and content must be well considered. Marketers should use social listening tools to understand and be sensitive to their target audience’s circumstances.
It remains to be seen whether Lydia Milen will be ‘cancelled’ or if the reputation of the Savoy hotel will tarnished through association.