On a daily basis, Black content creators show and tell their influence across social media.
For instance, let’s take a look at Keith Lee — the TikToker has become known for putting his five million followers, as of this writing, onto the food they should try through his popular taste tests.
After the food critic first tried Cinnabon’s cookies, the TikTok video went viral. What’s more, Lee claims his video brought new consumers to the company’s product.
“Cinnabon saw [the TikTok] and instead of reaching out and offering financial compensation or cookies, they offered me a box of Cinnabons,” Lee explained.
@keith_lee125 Cinnabon cookie taste test 💕 Have you tried them yet ? Would you ? 💕 #foodcritic @Cinnabon ♬ original sound – Keith Lee
“I’m not a fan of the Cinnabons. I’m a fan of the Cinnabon cookies. And I stated that. But still, they sent me the Cinnabons. I was very grateful. I appreciated it. I made a live post about it and I went about my day. Communication completely stopped and I didn’t hear anything from them.”
Then Cinnabon popped back up with a gift card for Lee to promote their new frosting. Instead, he used the gift card to buy their cookies and made another video.
“That video got 4.7 million views. They saw that video and they reached out again. This time they still didn’t offer any kind of financial compensation even though their cookies were selling out nationwide. What’d they offer me? Free cookies. I told them, ‘No, I need to be compensated.’”
Lee’s fight to be paid turned into him getting his agent involved but still no luck. He claims that Cinnabon left them on “read” for nearly two weeks yet posted about the cookies on their social media.
In addition to avoiding fair compensation, Lee says that Cinnabon’s actions have caused big-name companies to reach out to send free products in exchange for posting.
“This is not that,” Lee firmly stated. “I will not be taken advantage of. You will not control my narrative. Yes, I support small businesses but they are trying to survive, not profit. The second you try to profit, you must pay [a] marketing fee. You know that and I know that. I know the power and influence just as much as you do.”
Social media users have rallied in both Lee’s TikTok comment sections and Cinnabon’s social media pages for them to pay up.
As of this writing, Lee has yet to post whether Cinnabon has responded.