Kim Kardashian chose not to apologise last week for a misleading post on social media which landed her with a $1.26 million fine from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). For a privileged few, the normal rules of reputation don’t seem to apply.
The SEC warned celebrities in November 2017 that they must disclose when they are being paid to promote crypto tokens. Kardashian’s post about the cryptocurrency EthereumMax failed to do so. Which suggests a certain arrogance. Or naivety (from an incredibly savvy businesswoman). Either way, it smacks of the “one rule for me, one rule for everybody else” thinking which drove so many breaches of lockdown rules by wealthy individuals.
In her response to the fine, Kardashian doubled down on this entitled approach. Kardashian agreed to pay the charge without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings. She certainly didn’t deliver a personal apology. Instead, a legal statement said, “She wanted to get this matter behind her to avoid a protracted dispute. The agreement she reached with the SEC allows her to do that so that she can move forward with her many different business pursuits.”
At first glance, choosing Kardashian seems an unusual choice by the cryptocurrency firm. How many of her 330 million followers on Instagram – 80 percent of whom are Millennials and Zoomers aged 14 to 35 – have an interest in crypto-investment? However, Kardashian is expanding her footprint in the world of finance having recently co-launched a new private equity firm. Not that an SEC fine is the best of starts. Although for a woman worth $1.8 billion, the SEC fine must seem just pocket change.
Whether off-brand or vulgar, the influencer’s reputation has been built on such online promotions and is probably not only “priced in” but the crux of her appeal to her followers. For those who matter to Kardashian, this fine will matter little. And in this context, her refusal to apologise and fan the story, begins to make sense.
One rule for the rich and one for the rest of us? Not to the SEC but some Millennials and Zoomers seem to be very forgiving of their celebrities.
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