The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Caroline Calloway and the ‘Creativity Workshop’ Influencer Tour From Hell

Posted on | January 17, 2019 | Comments Off on Caroline Calloway and the ‘Creativity Workshop’ Influencer Tour From Hell

Caroline Calloway spending Daddy’s money in Europe, 2013.

In November, Glamour magazine announced that it would cease print publication and it’s not just the downward trend in print publications in general that is to blame. What has happened is that the fashion industry increasingly promotes its products via marketing arrangements with so-called “digital influencers,” which is a fancy term for pretty girls with lots of Instagram followers. Parlaying a popular Instagram feed (and maybe also a YouTube channel) into a lucrative income is a matter of “branding,” and one of the most popular “brands” of recent years is a young woman named Caroline Calloway. She comes from money. Her parents sent her to an elite boarding school in New Hampshire, and she attended New York University ($69,984 a year, including room and board). In 2013, at age 21, she spent the summer traveling in Europe, meeting good-looking Italian guys, and posting what she hashtagged #adventuregram photos with long storytelling captions. and then in the fall, she went to Cambridge University in England, studying art history and — ZOOM! — she soared to Instagram superstardom.

Evidently, there are lots of girls on Instagram who wish Daddy had enough money to send them to Cambridge where, in addition to “studying art history” (ahem) Miss Calloway got herself a dreamy British boyfriend named Oscar and had all kinds of #adventuregram moments that she chronicled for her growing digital audience.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Miss Calloway is not, nor will she ever be, a historian of art or anything else. She’s a no-talent spoiled rich girl who might be taking orders in a truck-stop diner were it not for Daddy’s money. But her tales of romance at Cambridge were enormously popular with her loyal fangirls on Instagram, and so Miss Calloway had a brainstorm — a book! And believe it or not, in 2015 a publisher offered her a $500,000 contract for a memoir on the basis of a 100-page proposal which her New York agent called “brilliant.”

What kind of “memoir” does a 24-year-old rich girl write?

Answer: We’ll never know, because Miss Calloway failed to deliver the manuscript, which meant she had to return the advance and — oops! — I guess Daddy’s not that rich, because she was left owing $100,000 to the publisher. That was summer 2017, after Miss Calloway had finished “studying art history” (ahem) and moved in with her boyfriend Oscar in London. She then began attempting to market herself as a “digital influencer,” apparently with not much success — certainly not enough success to pay back the $100,000 she owed the publisher. Finally, this past December, having lost Oscar and moved back to New York, Miss Calloway announced she would be doing a “Creativity Workshop” tour:

Topics to be covered included ‘Creativity — How to cultivate it, how to nurture it, and how to express it in a way that is true to who you are insdie’, ‘the basics of establishing style, crafting jokes, reading like a writer, and how to balance entertaining your audiencce with expressing yourself’, build a brand on Instagram by using my brand as a case study and explaining how I conceptualized, how I grew it, and why it works’, and ‘how to begin architecting a life that feels really full and genuine and rich and beautiful for you.’ All the spelling mistakes are hers.

So explains Kayleigh Donaldson, a Scottish journalist who has observed Miss Calloway’s online antics long enough to despise her quite thoroughly. Miss Calloway announced in December that her “Creativity Workshop” tour — to which she sold tickets for $165 — would begin in January. Yeah, lots of advanced planning there:

Calloway started selling tickets for her nationwide tour, with locations in Boston, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Austin, Charlotte and DC, before she had booked venues. Any event manager will tell you that rule number one is to make sure you have a location confirmed before you start selling tickets to it.

Many things — many, many things — went predictably and disastrously wrong with this doomed “Creativity Workshop” tour plan. The New York event this past Saturday will, apparently, be the first and last stop of her “tour.” Ticket-holders to previously announced dates in other cities have reportedly gotten refunds.

So what’s the lesson here? Kayleigh Donaldson concludes:

No, Calloway is not the worst scammer on the internet. Plenty of people have been quick to tell me they don’t think she’s a real scammer, just an incompetent dolt who got in way over her head. But I’m not sure that option is much better. All the warning signs were there and she powered through because there was money to be made. She harnessed that fan devotion for profit based on skills she did not possess and services she could not provide, and anyone who dissented from that loyalty was ‘inauthentic’. . . .
Being incompetent is not charming. Scamming people out of hundreds of dollars for the chance to be ‘real’ with an influencer is not good business. Other people’s work and emotions are not yours to appropriate as part of a brand.
Caroline Calloway is merely the sloppiest and most obviously incompetent version of the influencer economy run amok. She has had every opportunity handed to her, including a book deal that would be life-changing for most, but she had no intention of following through. The workshop tour merely exposes how unprepared and unwilling to learn she is for such experiences. Calloway’s main problem is that she doesn’t want to be an artist or a storyteller or a writer: she wants to have made art, to have told stories, to have been a writer, to have taught, and so on. But that requires work, research, planning, sacrifice, and an acute understanding that not everything you do will be successful or worthy of celebration. She has nothing to offer but is selling everything.

Miss Calloway is 27 now. She’s no longer the fresh-faced girl posting #adventuregram photos and spending Daddy’s money on an extended vacation “studying art history” in Cambridge. She’s got hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers but has yet to succeed in monetizing her “brand” because she’s unwilling to do any actual work.

Like, you land a $500,000 book contact — half a million dollars! — at age 24, and you can’t deliver the manuscript? Why? Because you were too busy “studying art history” and hanging out with Oscar? Or was it because you realized that your shallow life wasn’t really interesting enough to merit a “memoir”? But if somebody’s willing to pay you $500,000 for it, maybe you could fake it? For $500,000 I could write all kinds of wild stuff, maybe even the True Story of the Kentucky Fried Chicken Robbery, although otherwise I’d have to invoke my Fifth Amendment rights on advice of my Samoan lawyer.

Probably nobody wants to read any stories of my drug-addled adolescence outrunning the Austell, Georgia, police in a 1973 Volkswagen Beetle, but for $500,000? Yeah, how soon do you need that story, Mister Publisher Man? For a half-million bucks, I’m gonna make it good. But first, I’d have to hire a cute little “editorial assistant” and set up a writing office in Key West, so I could really concentrate on my work.

No, it’s never gonna happen, and not just because anyone who knows me would warn the publisher that I’m far too irresponsible to be trusted with $500,000. No matter how interesting my youthful misadventures were, publishers nowadays only want “memoirs” by girls fresh out of college with lots of followers on Instagram and YouTube, because that’s where the marketing analysts tell them the money is. Anyway . . .


This message has been brought to you by Flying Dog™ Beer.

Now that I’m a digital influencer, who’s up for a “creativity workshop”?



Comments are closed.