How Mzansi celebs are using their pull to get behind the wheel of luxury cars

Digital content creator and media personality Lasizwe Dambuza. Picture: Kelvin_tanakaphotography

Digital content creator and media personality Lasizwe Dambuza. Picture: Kelvin_tanakaphotography

Published Apr 21, 2024


In today's digital landscape, the symbiotic relationship between brands and content creators has become increasingly essential for successful marketing strategies.

Brands traditionally relied on orthodox advertising methods to reach their target audience, but with the the rise of social media and influencer driven marketing, companies are trying to cash in on consumers positive sentiments and authentic content experiences.

Content creators, with their apparent ability to connect with niche and mass audiences to produce engaging content, have become powerful allies for brands looking to establish a genuine connection with consumers.

Brand partnerships have afforded influencers and content creators the opportunities to live out their wildest dreams and even drive the fanciest cars, in the hope that these could lead to increased sales.

Car dealerships, for instance, are increasingly turning to influencers to advertise their products and services. Most recently award-winning content creator Lasizwe Dambuza created a stir with his car from Volvo South Africa, the new EX30 electric vehicle (EV).

Dambuza is not the only influencer driving around South Africa in a Volvo, influencers Tshepi Vundla and Thea Booysen, actress Jessica Nkosi and actor Thapelo Mokoena are among Volvo South Africa’s long-running ambassadors.

In 2023, Grammy award-winning recording artist Zakes Bantwini joined the Mercedes-Benz family as a friend of the brand, joining his wife Nandi Madida, Springbok players Siya Kolisi and his wife Rachel, Eben Etzebeth, Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am.

Bantwini at his 40 Something birthday celebration in Sandton was gifted a Mercedes-EQ electric vehicle to drive for a year.

In 2019, presenter and actress Minnie Dlamini joined the Jaguar South Africa family as its Brand Ambassador. Dlamini caused a stir on her 30th birthday when she got a new car that cost almost R2 million - a Jaguar I-Pace.

Actress Nomzamo Mbatha has been the brand ambassador for luxury automaker Audi South Africa and drove several of their models.

In 2016, South African athlete Wayde van Niekerk after breaking the world record and winning gold at the Rio Olympics was surprised with a brand-new Audi R8 by Audi South Africa.

Dambuza’s pictures of the Volvo EX30 sparked a conversation on social media about the ever-changing landscape of brand partnerships, content creation and the laws or rules applicable to social media influencers.

The Social Media Code of Conduct (“the Code”) that has been published by the Advertising Regulatory Board, provides a measure of transparency for social media influencers

In terms of the code, they are required to disclose if their content is part of a social media advertising campaign.

On Facebook or Instagram, these posts should be marked as “Paid Partnership”, “Sponsored” or “Promoted” on Twitter. The material should be identifiable to an average social media user as advertising on behalf of a third party.

Examples of these social media identifiers include: “#AD”, “#Advertisement”, or “#Sponsored”. These identifiers must be included in the post itself.

Sponsored content is considered as advertising according to the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and influencers have a duty to disclose that they are being sponsored to do such.

Although the advertising regulator does not specify specific sanctions, when an influencer doesn’t clearly say that a post is an advertisement, they are violating advertising guidelines.

If content is misleading or false, it could lead to legal trouble, this is why influencers should only endorse products or services they genuinely believe in and have personally used.

American model Kendall Jenner was caught in the crossfire of the 2017 Fyre Festival fiasco and settled a lawsuit and paid around R1.6 million for her involvement in promoting the Fyre Festival - which was a disaster.

Jenner was reportedly paid R5 million to promote the music festival and failed to state that her post was paid for.

As influencer marketing continues to evolve in South Africa, it’s important that social media creators and brands are aware that they need to mindful and not mislead average social media users.

So before you believe your favourite influencer has a new luxury vehicle, also remember that they could have scored the wheels, thanks to a brand partnership. This is why social media influencers need to practise transparency with their followers.

IOL Entertainment