A spat between a YouTube blogger and a hotel owner has landed the former with a bill for €5,289,000 ($6,490,000).
Last week, Paul Stenson, who owns the White Moose Cafe and the Charleville Lodge Hotel in Dublin, posted on Facebook an email he received from YouTube blogger Elle Darby asking for free lodging over Valentine’s day in exchange for publicity on YouTube and Instagram, where she has tens of thousands of followers. Stenson was not pleased with the request commenting, in part “If I let you stay here in return for a feature in your video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you? …Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?”
Darby then posted a video accusing Stenson of bullying, which prompted backlash against the hotel, and, according to Stenson, 114 news articles in 20 countries.
A public relations agency crunched the publicity value of these articles, coming up with a benefit of €4.3 million for Darby, and, using this data, Stenson posted on Twitter, indicating—with tongue in cheek, one assumes—that he’s going to charge Darby for the publicity that she received (plus IVA) from what’s been dubbed #bloggergate.
The White Moose Cafe also tweeted images of new t-shirts it was selling to make light of the situation.
It’s not uncommon for YouTube stars to provide publicity for businesses in exchange for goods, services, or cold hard cash. The public feud between Darby and Stenson has stoked debate about whether the publicity-for-goods economy is a fair one. The top-earning YouTube star in 2017 was Daniel Middleton, who brought in $16.5 million through his channel.