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The price of influence

Advertising has ceded power at the pulpit. From being one of the key custodians of the brand and its persuasive voice, it has let itself be hostage to the pied pipers of social media

Arundhuti Dasgupta

A 23-something Instagrammer stares insouciantly into the camera, unboxes a pair of soccer shoes and holds it up. No words are spoken, nothing captions the moment either. Except for a rush of hearts and exclamation marks that float up the screen and an almost imperceptible flash of fingers that snaps the box open, the million-plus followers of the dancer-cum-fitness trainer get nothing more than a fleeting glimpse of the global shoe brand that paid a hefty sum to choreograph the launch of its new line with a band of mega influencers from around the world. Even a few years ago — ...