The OG Influencer: How Paris Hilton Started The World Of Influencer Marketing



As her real life’s documentary has finally been released, we get a closer look at how Paris Hilton gave birth to influencer marketing—an industry that made a lot of success stories from young upstarts. 

Much has been said about Paris Hilton. Ever since she became famous in the early 2000s, every woman just wanted to be her. At her prime, she was (and still is) a pop culture ringleader who inspired a new generation of celebrities: the influencers.

Laying the foundation to a whole new industry is never easy. In the case of Paris Hilton, she was just fortunate enough to be coming from a wealthy family, heiress of a business empire, and well, perfectly passing the high standards of beauty back then. But throughout the heiress’ life, she has attracted the world to monitor her every move. From her Juicy Couture sweatsuits, pink glossy lipstick, to her chihuahuas with diamond collars, everything that she liked instantly became the fad. Was she doing anything unique? Not quite. She was simply being herself.

While many of the tabloids would always portray her as the “dumbass white b*tch,” her documentary titled, This is Paris, proved to us that it was all just a front. And today, it all makes sense—her fake baby voice and her stupid remarks—it was all just a facade to her branding. Come to think of it, if she truly is vacuous as she portrays herself t be, then she wouldn’t be able to create this great kingdom of influencer marketing.

At the onset of the 21st century, she already understood the market’s behavior. What do people always look for when life becomes awful? It’s always a means of escapism from reality. With this in mind, Paris successfully penetrated the aspirational audience by sharing her own life, allowing a growing population of an eager market to live vicariously through her. Here, she gave everyone a glimpse of living a luxurious life by letting the paparazzi chase her and having her own reality show. It served as the floodgate access to the lifestyle of the rich and famous. “That’s why they call me the OG Influencer,” Paris states in the documentary. “But I think I made a monster.” Did she really?

The Multi-billion Dollar Industry

Everything we know of today all boils down to branding. To be successful in the cut-throat industry perpetuated by a sea of influencers, you need to have a very specific niche to target. While this may be, the brilliant aspect of Paris Hilton is she actually appeals to the entirety of the social stratification—from the elite class to the common folk.

So, with the rise of the internet, she already understood how to effectively utilize technology as a marketing tool. Since social media has made the world smaller and more connected, the majority of the world’s population can have access to everyone’s personal life. Armed with her past experience on “influencing,” people without the use of the internet, it was really just a matter of time for Paris to transition and dominate the digital sphere.

Famous for being famous, she simply indulged her perceived narcissistic self, taking selfies and flaunting her lifestyle for everyone to admire and envy. The only difference now is it’s easily achieved, and brands can actively measure her following, likes, and shares. So, the social media moguls we follow today are literally just following her footsteps and the tactics she invented years ago. To argue that she isn’t the mother of the digital age is blasphemy.

Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian

One perfect illustration who followed her lead is her former assistant-turned-celebrity, Kim Kardashian. “Paris started that movement—having paparazzi follow your every move,” Kim admits in the documentary. “I wouldn’t be here today if it hasn’t been for her starting off in reality [TV] and introducing me to the world.”

Diversifying Brands

The world of influencer marketing doesn’t stop there, because once they have successfully established themselves as a brand, it’s time for them to diversify. And this can smartly be achieved by creating your own products. They normally start small with hoodies, shirts, and caps, then once they have a bigger capital, they bring to life their own dream business.

Upon looking at Paris’ assets, we can’t deny the fact that her Hilton status helped her catapult her career. But it was still because she was smart enough to diversify her own brand, offering various products and services. Today, she has over 50 stores worldwide, 19 product lines, USD2.5 billion fragrance sales, USD300,000 for an hour party appearance, and a USD1 million rate per DJ set.

Much like her, Kim Kardashian also didn’t become a millionaire (and perhaps soon, a billionaire) simply through her reality show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians. She was able to do that because she made her own beauty line, KKW Beauty, as well as a brand-new line of shapewear, SKIMS, to name a few. So, as it is already proven and tested, this strategy became the blueprint of other influencers—from Instagram, YouTube, to TikTok.

Navigating The Dark Side

Just like the idiom, “there’s no rose without a thorn,” the world of influencers is no exception to this. While we’re seeing the wonderful so-called perfect life of this new breed of celebrities, it’s imperative to keep in mind that such a thing doesn’t exist.

While Paris Hilton thought she created a monster, perhaps we may well assume that what she meant was the huge potential for any budding celebrity to get lost track of the truth. The digital world can hide a range of dangers such as online hate causing serious damage to mental health. This happens because sometimes they put on a mask, not being true to themselves for money. Influencers tend to forget that not much can turn followers off like inauthenticity. Trust is now the key to a world full of fake news because when you’re authentic, you’ll be able to build trust with your followers, which will lead them to genuinely listen.

So, it was only fitting that Paris finally let the truth be known about her past, too—how she was abused at a young age studying in a boarding school with a boot camp-style behavior-modification program. She knows that it has to stop, and the younger generation need not experience their sufferings back in the days.

While the world may have depicted her as a dumb blonde who knows nothing, we were all wrong to judge that she had a smooth-sailing life. Her documentary also serves as our reminder that beyond anyone’s well-curated feed is someone who’s also sharing the same experiences like that of us in this world—full of joy, difficulties, and, of course, learnings. We must remind ourselves that true success is living your genuine life to the fullest. And that’s how Paris Hilton maintains to be in the top spot—a relevant queen in the past, present, and as it stands, in the future, still.

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