It’s hella tough being beautiful, hey, but at least you get the odd free meal.
A while back, I saw a story regarding Beauty Pass, an app that offers free meals to models who visit participating outlets.
According to Cape Town Etc, “members are selected through selected fashion agencies and the app operates using a live map that shows members where deals are closest to them at all times”.
You just knew it was only a matter of time until someone took offence, which leads us to Lekker Vegan.
The Cape Town-based business, “which has outlets in the hipster hangouts of Kloof Street and Harrington Street”, is under fire for their participation with the app.
According to TimesLIVE, Lekker Vegan’s James Knaap (pictured above right) responded to the criticism:
“Whatever Beauty Pass is stating about their mission or whomever is invited to their app is not up to us.
“We just care that they are enabling us to reach thousands and thousands of people that will potentially make more vegan choices.”
The sharpest barbs have occurred on the South African Vegan Society’s Facebook page, with some wonderful piss-takes of the concept.
Nicola Vernon enjoyed a chuckle, whilst making her point:
The general consensus, though, was that the idea doesn’t sit well with the group’s members:
Under each of those posts, debate raged, as you can see by the ‘comments’ count.
Let’s just get a little more insight into the app’s angle:
The app says: “It allows models to quickly get to a free lunch, free dinner, free gym, free drinks and much more. It is a great tool to relieve models from costly everyday expenses and to help them save money in cities they are currently working in.”
Spin it how you want, but the truth is models often have a large social media presence, will share their meals with their followers, and that’s good news for the restaurants in question.
You know, the old influencer angle.
However you spin it, peeps are still not happy:
Bridget O’Neill Wolmarans said the app was “sad and disturbing”, adding: “I suppose such a ‘marketing strategy’ is indicative of our society’s values, reasoning and overall state of psychological functioning.”
Garth Tavares said he often obtained discounts at restaurants in exchange for a review. “I’m worth 25% off because I blog and post a lot, but I’m not good-looking enough to be given 100% off my meal. Gross that the world has come to this,” he said.
It appears that other vegan restaurants agree:
The owner of Cape Town’s Plant vegan restaurant, Pierre Lambret, said he had rebuffed an approach from Beauty Pass. “Why would you get to eat for free cause you’re good-looking, hence have a lot of followers?” he said.
In the interest of fairness, we should give some more time at the podium to Lekker Vegan’s Knaap:
[He] said Lekker Vegan’s association with Beauty Pass was all about social influence.
“We get approached independently quite often by all kinds of people with a large online following to engage in this type of exchange and we regularly do so irrespective of their appearance,” he said.
“The food might seem free, but in actuality we’re exchanging what they call ‘social currency’. When they get a Lekker Vegan Burger from us they’re obliged to post about it, so that we get lots of exposure.
“It’s not as blunt as saying we’re giving free food because you’re ‘pretty’. It’s an exchange, not free. Food in exchange for social reach. It reaches more people than other traditional forms of advertising.
“I’m aware that giving free stuff to popularly ‘rated’ social media people has a bit of a Black Mirror feel to it and might seem superficial, but why not use their large influence to promote the consumption of vegan food and thus promote a part of veganism?
“We see it as an effective tool to promote a vegan business that is saving many lives daily with every meal sold.”
I guess one can see his point. Then again, veganism is often linked (correctly or otherwise) with ideals like body positivity, which doesn’t quite align with a “free meals for models” deal.
At the end of the day, it seems, business is business.
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