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Fake Ambassador Programs

Brands Are Targeting Teens with Coupon Codes and Calling Them Ambassador Programs!

I’ve got a HUGE bone to pick with these scrappy, little ecomm upstarts trying to branch out into influencer marketing without spending any money! 

I’m not talking about bootstrapping companies that want to pay nano-influencers in free gear. Trust me – a lot of nano-influencers would LOVE that kinda set up. Gen Zers love swag.

I’m talking about these companies that reach out to teens and tweens on Instagram, DM them and offer them the chance to be a “brand ambassador” (for a brand they’re already following and kinda into) IF the kids will first buy their $79 yoga pants for a 30% discount. 

That’s not a Brand Ambassador Program, it’s a coupon code!

What Is a Brand Ambassador Really?

A brand ambassador is someone who is ✨hired and paid by a brand ✨ to talk about its products (using blog posts, videos, social media posts, social pics, product reviews), usually for a specific period of time and for an agreed-upon rate (sometimes that’s rate is free gear). That’s the simple definition. You don’t have to buy anything up front. 


Brand ambassadors are great for brand lift, generating tons of earned media, and driving traffic to a site, so they can become a valuable extension of your marketing team IF you’re strategic about how you choose them.

But many of these types of scammy brands that charge kids for a fake title will spend money on ads promoting ambassador programs just to lure kids into buying pricey athleisure gear.  They then try to recoup their ad spend by promising young influencers and social media users the TITLE of ambassador if they buy two or three products first. 

In the case of Alpha Wear Fitness, the ambassadorship levels hinge on the amount of product the ambassadors themselves actually buy, not on the size of their audiences and engagement ratios (which is how you should calculate influencer fees).

To get into their program, the sales rep required my daughter,  Kira to buy six pieces from an apparel line where the sports bras were $49 each and leggings were 79 bucks. And this is after she told the guy she’s pretty much a broke rising college freshman. In his defense, he did say he’d work with her and only make her buy two pieces of their apparel to be accepted in their “ambassador program”.

Dude, miss me with that craziness!

Kira’s a dancer and she gets tons of these so-called “invitations” to be an ambassador. With about 1,000 other dancers and farm kids following her public page (not sure what the numbers are on her private, no-moms spam page) and an authentic engagement rate of about 15% on her public page, she’s a prime target for these types of scams.

Luckily, she’s cool with running these “opportunities” by me first (which is how I found out that these charlatans exist). On occasion, when I’ve been Sanders-level outraged, she’ll respond to them with my verbatim response. 

Okay. My rant is done, but pass the word on to your kids, your nieces and nephews, and your siblings that this is NOT how influencer marketing works.

And for you scammy, unethical brands, it’s NOT okay to prey on the desires of kids to fit in and be accepted to make quick sales. And every time I see one, I’m calling you out.

Of course, if you need help planning a REAL influencer campaign where you don’t have to con people into buying your gear, we can help you with that. And don’t worry – I’m not an account manager, so you never have to know I’m judging you.

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