The Hotel Owner Who Called Out a Blogger for Asking for a Free Stay Now Wants $6.5 Million From Her
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Hotel and café owner Paul Stenson isn’t finished with his public shaming of Instagram and YouTube “influencer” Elle Darby, a controversy that’s been dubbed #BloggerGate. He just invoiced her for the equivalent of $6.5 million.
If you’re not caught up, on Jan. 16, Stenson posted a screenshot to Facebook of an email Darby had sent him, in which she requested a complimentary stay at his hotel, the Charleville Lodge, in exchange for videos and social media posts shared with her followers. His disdainful post shamed her: “Jesus Christ,” Stenson wrote, “I would never in a million years ask anyone for anything for free.”
Although Stenson obscured Darby’s identity before posting the screenshot and accompanying message, Darby saw the post and responded with a 17-minute YouTube video expressing her embarrassment and hurt feelings. (In a week, the video has garnered nearly 2 million views.)
Darby’s reaction video inspired backlash against Stenson by the blogger and influencer community. Stenson responded by posting additional updates to Facebook, including one in which he declared he is banning all bloggers from setting foot inside his businesses. He took Darby’s request to help him generate publicity, rejected it, then used it to generate way more publicity than a couple of her posts ever would have.
And he’s still not done roasting her.
As of Jan. 20, Dublin-based public relations agency ClearStory had counted 114 published news articles summarizing Stenson’s disagreement with Darby, across 20 countries. These stories mentioning Darby added up to “a potential reach of 450 million people generating close to €4.3m in equivalent advertising spend,” ClearStory calculated. In other words, the back and forth has generated $5.3 million worth of publicity for Darby.
Stenson has now used these figures to generate an invoice (below) for Darby, which he tweeted on Saturday, charging her the €4.3 million, plus value-added tax, for a total of approximately €5.3 million ($6.5 million).
I’m posting out this invoice today... pic.twitter.com/FYFONTWoOd— White Moose Cafe (@whitemoosecafe) January 20, 2018
And to squeeze out even more value from his tiff with Darby, Stenson on Monday tweeted out new T-shirts he’s made.