Infographic: Influencer (r)evolution

Using luminaries and kitschy characters to increase sales and brand cachet was around long before Instagram, but social media is taking this tactic to new heights.

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An infographic created by traces the evolution of “influencers,” from Fatty Arbuckle shilling cigarettes in the early 1900s to our current heady days of DJ Khaled endorsing spirits on Snapchat.

The graphic references Josiah Wedgwood, who made the most of his status as “Potter to Her Majesty” to market his wares in the 1700s.

The 20th century saw the rise of organizations using characters like Santa Claus, Tony the Tiger and Kool-Aid Man (“Oh yeah!”) to pitch products. Flo from Progressive has been foisting car insurance upon us for nearly a decade now.

The influencer trend is quickly becoming a social media arms race, though.

Brands are shelling out oceans of cash to have megastars like Selena Gomez and Cristiano Ronaldo mention their products online. Gomez has a combined follower count north of 170 million on her Instagram and Twitter accounts.

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