A ‘Married at First Sight’ star had an Instagram sponsorship offer pulled after she shared COVID-19 conspiracy content from Pete Evans

  • An Australia mask-maker has withdrawn a offer to advertise with “Married At First Sight” star Natasha Spencer because she shared a COVID-19 conspiracy post from celebrity chef Pete Evans.
  • Spencer took to Instagram to criticise the company’s founder for using obscenities when he called Evans “a chef, not a fucking scientist”.
  • Marketers have identified brand risk as a potential concern when working with influencers to promote their products.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

A star of the most recent season of Australia’s hit reality television series “Married At First Sight” has shared a message from a prospective advertiser withdrawing an offer to pay for sponsored Instagram posts after she shared content from Pete Evans.

On Monday night, Natasha Spencer shared a screenshot of correspondence between her and owner a mask-making company The Clothing Depot, Brent O’Rourke, on her Instagram Story to her 83,000 followers.

A message from O’Rourke reads “Unfortunately Natasha, we will be recidening [sic] any offer of sponsorship at this time.”

“I highly suggest you remove any and all Pete Evans propoganga [sic] from your page as you have a strong influence on a young audience. He is a chef, not a fucking scientist.”

On the top of the messages, Spencer has include a caption “IF YOU USE YOUR PROFILE TO COMMUNICATE WITH POTENTIAL AMBASSADORS, TRY NOT TO FOLLOW IT WITH COMPLETE AND UTTER UNPROFESSIONAL AM. OBSCENITIES. AND BELITTLING STATEMENTS.”

Business Insider understands that Spencer had previously shared a graphic from former television host and celebrity chef Pete Evans that cast doubt on the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. Evans has been criticised for sharing medical misinformation and conspiracy theories in the past.

O’Rourke told Business Insider that he had approached Spencer over Instagram to create a sponsored post for his company showing the MAFS star wearing one of his company’s masks.

“I reached out to her on 8 August, saying ‘hey, how are you?’ I’ve sent it to thousands of influencers to see if she’d like to partner and finding out how much it would be,” he said.

Spencer replied shortly afterwards, telling O’Rourke that usually she charges $1,000 for an Instagram Story and a post.

Following that, the pair had organised but failed to meet. Spencer cited personal reasons for missing a scheduled phone call. After O’Rourke had messaged several times without response, he he saw Spencer share content from Evans questioning the US Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) official statistics of COVID-19 deaths.

“She puts the Pete Evans CDC post up on her story. He’s been posting conspiracy theories,” O’Rourke said. “I mean, he’s a chef, not a fucking scientist.”

Following these interactions, Spencer posted the messages on her Instagram story. O’Rourke said that he’s received abuse since the correspondence was publicly shared.

Spencer has not responded to questions sent via her management. Earlier this month, Spencer shared Instagram stories comparing COVID-19 to the flu and criticising Australia’s pandemic response.

Since the start of the pandemic, Instagram influencers have been identified as one of the major vectors of medical misinformation. An Oxford University study found that the 20% of misinformation from public figures accounted for 69% of the total engagements.

While influencer marketing is becoming increasingly popular, marketers are also conscious of the brand risk of being associated with influencers.