The College Admission Scandal: What Brands Can Learn From It

Senior Executive

Recently, several well-known individuals have been at the centre of a global scandal involving the bribery of colleges in order to gain admission.

Famous faces including Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman have been linked to the uncovering of emails implicating them in the process of false applications.

One of the aforementioned, Loughlin, became the central poster girl of the case due to her social media famous daughter Olivia Jade’s more high-profile involvement (she was directly linked after it was revealed she had been CC’d into email correspondence.

So, why have Loughlin and her daughter had such a focus and high volume of press coverage as the story has unfolded? Well, Olivia Jade is a blogger and a very successful one at that. Boasting over one million Instagram followers and over 158 million views collectively on her YouTube channel, the 19-year-old influencer is somewhat of a phenomenon.

As well as creating content for her various channels, the star also partakes in brand deals with a variety of prominent companies such as Dolce and Gabbana, Smash Box, Estée Lauder and Sephora(with whom she launched her own eyeshadow palette).

When news of the scandal broke last week, many of these sponsors publicly withdrew support for Olivia and Lori, with Sephora stating: "After careful review of recent developments, we have made the decision to end the Sephora Collection partnership with Olivia Jade, effective immediately." One sponsor, Hewlett- Packard, even worked with both mother and daughter on a tech based social campaign to promote a laptop: something which seems deeply ironic in hindsight.

Sadly, this is not the first time a plethora of brands have been let down by a single individual embroiled in an unexpected scandal. However, a quick examination of Olivia’s social media by HP would have indicated to them that she was less than committed to her studies and therefore not an ideal candidate for their campaign.

Regardless of the rights or wrongs of the situation, Influencer Matchmaker has compiled a list of how to make sure you are choosing the best and most authentic influencer partnership for your brand and what to do if it all goes wrong:

1.) Play Detective

This may seem a touch extreme, but it is vital that you do extensive research before engaging in a partnership with an influencer. A five-minute check of each social platform will not suffice, it is paramount that a deep search of the internet is conducted to dig up any potential issues: chances are if your brand can find them your consumers can too. Anything from an offensive tweet to an untimely remark in a YouTube video is up for grabs so it is key that you are aware of this when deciding on a collaboration.

2.) Give Your Influencer a Little More Creative Freedom

From the text used to the visuals, truly passionate individuals will want to collaborate and add their own spin to creative briefs. Brands should be wary of any influencer who wants nothing more than a copy and paste insert of text and uses a lazy or recycled accompanying visual. Take a look on social media to get an indication as to how prior partnerships have been conducted and the effort of creativity applied.

3.) Remember, Bigger isn't Always Better

In business, it is so easy to become numbers focused and aim for the influencer with the highest number of followers. However, this can be at the detriment of their genuine engagement and sometimes effort levels.

Whilst we don’t wish to make assumptions, sometimes influencers may neglect your campaign if they have the power to focus on a bigger or better brand deal or decide they don’t want to. Chances are you will often get better content from mid-sized or micro influencers who appreciate being given the chance to collaborate. This isn’t always true but is often the general rule of thumb.


Following the recent scandal, many brands have chosen to end their partnership deals with Olivia Jade.

And When It All Goes Wrong?

None of the brands involved in the aforementioned scandal could have predicted or prepared for what happened. However, at Influencer Matchmaker we specialise in crisis management so thought we would also offer up a couple of pointers on a call to action for brands when this does happen:

Decide What Side of The Fence You Sit On - Quickly!

When issues arise, it is very important that you as a brand show the consumer what side of the fence you sit on regarding your stance on particular issues. Quickly review the situation and decide whether the contract must be instantly terminated or whether the problem will smooth over, paying careful consideration to how this will go down with your audience.

Review All Other Brands Contracts Immediately

Often times like this can serve as a reminder to check any other partnerships that the brand is involved with and potentially scout out any red flags before they arise as a more serious issue. Above all, it is about protecting your brand value and integrity, therefore, there is little harm in checking up on your affiliate’s activity to make sure that it sits in line with your views.

Influencer Matchmaker specialises in all aspects of Influencer partnerships and collaboration. For more information on our available services, simply fill out our online form, call 0203 9580 427 or email