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£63,000 paid to 'influencers' to promote Test and Trace service


Government ministers paid £63,000 to 42 social media 'influencers' to promote the NHS Test and Trace service, it has been revealed.

The ad campaign, launched last year, saw celebrities including Love Island stars Shaughna Phillips and Josh Denzel share messages of support for the health service and its coronavirus testing system on platforms such as Instagram.

The Cabinet Office figures, which come after a Freedom of Information request by independent fact-checking organisation Full Fact, would amount to £1,500 per influencer on average.

However, the payments are likely to vary depending on the size of the individual's following on social media sites. 

While ITV2 reality stars Phillips, 26, and Denzel, 29, have a combined Instagram following of 2.7million, other social media personalities who were paid had as few as 9,000 followers. 

During the Test and Trace campaign, the influencers - who also included professional hockey player Henry Weir - used hashtags including '#letsgetback' and '#gettested' for the social media posts in which they shared throwback pictures of 'nights out' with friends. 

After trawling through these Instagram hashtags - along with #ad, which is meant to be displayed for paid-for posts - Full Fact discovered messages from 11 social media posters which seemed to be part of the Government campaign. 

The Cabinet Office told Full Fact: 'As part of the wider communications strategy for raising essential awareness of the NHS Test and Trace service and the importance of testing for Covid-19, we have been working with key micro and macro influencers to reach young adults in a channel they regularly engage with, as we also use traditional marketing and advertorials to reach adults via print, radio and TV advertising.'

Other posts which may have been part of the NHS Test and Trace campaign may have been removed or appeared on other platforms, such as YouTube or TikTok, Full Fact said.