DEBATE: Zoella Is Selling An Advent Calendar For £50 And It's Really Not Ok
7 November 2017, 12:03
Scamming kids ain't cute.
Zoella is a unique kind of celebrity. The value of her image and influence is so strong that she doesn't really need to do much except live on camera to entertain her fans. Whether or not her particular line of work deserves the amount of money she earns, at least we know that wealth isn't coming at the expense of young fans - or their parents. Until it comes to merchandise, that is.
Holding such a huge amount of power over your audience requires responsibility, and Zoella's latest merchandise offering feels like an abuse of that power. Retailing for a whopping £50, the UK's best-known vlogger is offering a "Zoella 12 Days of Christmas Advent Calendar." And if you're thinking, "hey, wait a second; isn't that just an Advent calendar with half the days missing?" you would be entirely correct.
According to Boots, one of the retailers selling the calendar, it's filled with "A bauble, confetti, purse, candle 130g, cookie cutter x 2, jotter pad, key ring, pen, room spray 30ml, stickers and votive". You could nip to IKEA and get all of that for less than £20. The inflated cost, it would seem, is based entirely on the fact that it has Zoella's name on it.
But it's a free country and Zoella can sell whatever she wants for however much she wants, right?
Of course she can! But in a country where families are turning to food banks in record numbers, and over 100,000 kids are living in poverty, celebrities with young followers - many of whom will have parents who are struggling to make ends meet - have a duty think a little harder about the pressure they're putting on families when they price their merchandise, particularly at Christmas.
Let's be real. Zoella's "Advent calendar" is a bit of a scam.
It's cynical and completely un-festive for a celebrity with the power to turn any old tat into best-selling merchandise - just by slapping their name on the box - to charge such an exorbitant price for something that is so clearly not worth it. Christmas puts a huge stress on family finances, and making what will be a must-have gift for lots of kids prohibitively expensive is essentially holding Christmas cheer to ransom. Especially when it's only a blimmin' Advent calendar (with half the days!).
This issue is bigger than one piece of merchandise
Earlier this month, Hello World - a YouTuber convention featuring Zoella, Joe Sugg, Alfie Deyes and the rest of the 2014 YouTube crew - was met with heavy criticism after fans paid up to £99 to experience very little from their faves.
Vloggers need to start thinking about what they can offer their fans in the offline world - and what they should reasonably charge to allow fans to experience their brand outside of YouTube. The platform's greatest strength is that anyone from any walk of life can access it, and if that's where you've built your fame you really need to keep the spirit of open-access and equality prominent in every aspect of your career. Is a ridiculous profit margin really worth knowing that some of your fans are going to be gutted when their parents can't buy your merchandise for them?
YouTubers are businesspeople, and we shouldn't expect them to forgo making a profit all together. But there's a time and a place, and Christmas ain't it.
Now, here are some things you could buy for the same price or less than a Zoella Advent calendar
- Tickets to see Little Mix, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga and even Beyoncé in concert.
- A Pandora charm bracelet
- An indoor skydiving experience
- Flights to Spain
- 31 Cadbury Dairy Milk Advent calendars (that have all 24 days)
- A Makeup Revolution Advent calendar (also with 24 days)
- All of the things inside a Zoella Advent calendar (with plenty of change)
- A ticket to almost any West End musical