Influencers Unknowingly Promoted Fake Drink Made With Cyanide

"The product was clearly labeled hydrogen cyanide, and we wanted to see if they would consider selling it to their fans, which would kill them."
December 20, 2019, 12:00pm
cyanora fake poison cyanide drink
Screenshot via BBC

Earlier this year, it was announced that Irish rapper, satirist, and self-described "fierce sound cunt" Blindboy Boatclub would be getting his own series on BBC Three, after the network aired a well-received pilot for the program.

A representative for the BBC said that future episodes of Blindboy Undestroys the World would "be tackling subjects such as human trafficking through to scam celebrity endorsements." And after just four episodes, Blindboy—whose name is Dave Chambers when he's not wearing a plastic shopping bag over his face—has delivered, especially when it comes to outing influencers and their willingness to recklessly promote almost anything that they can tag with #ad.

Earlier this week, three well-known reality-stars-turned-Instagram celebrities and their agents took part in a segment on Blindboy, and they were each asked to promote a diet drink called Cyanora. The drink does not exist, mostly because its ingredient list includes the extremely poisonous gas hydrogen cyanide. (The American Chemical Society says that hydrogen cyanide was used in Nazi-run extermination camps, and has also been used to execute death row inmates in some U.S. states.)

Former The Only Way Is Essex cast members Lauren Goodger and Mike Hassini and former Love Island participant Zara Holland were all given some information about the product during separate interviews, and they were told that they would not be able to test the product until it was ready to launch in a few more months. Regardless, they filmed brief promos for Cyanora, mentioning hydrogen cyanide by name. ("From what I know, that all looks pretty natural," Hassini said.)

"We were very transparent," Blindboy explained during the episode. "The product was clearly labeled hydrogen cyanide, and we wanted to see if they would consider selling it to their fans, which would kill them."

After they were informed about what they'd done, Goodger and Holland both released statements through their agents, and needless to say, the main ingredient in those releases was frantic damage control. Through her representative, Goodger said that she had not signed a deal to endorse Cyanora, and that she'd only taken part in an audition. "They asked me would I promote the drink without using it," she wrote. "In the heat of the moment I said yes [...] Of course I would never promote anything that contains poison and proper checks would have been made before any promotion."

But in a lengthy, lengthy Instagram story she posted on Thursday morning, Goodger said that she felt "set up" by the program. "I kind of walked into a meeting blind. I got an audition for a job. I wasn't explained much of the information. My agent at the time got the email we're promoting this new water," she said "I love water [...] Obviously I went to the meeting, I was in there for how long, talking away, and they've obviously took the bits that they wanted.

"I was filmed, and I just feel very set up to be honest because they never told me that it there was poison in it. Obviously it's not a real product, I... what is it? Cynanine, whatever it's called. I've never heard of it before and it was a trick [...] I don't really feel like I'm in the wrong because I wasn't told. I was kind of put on the spot with a green screen. I still don't know what [cyanide] means. If you look on the back of a normal water bottle, there's all different words on there, and not all of it I know, it's not just water."

Meanwhile, Holland told the BBC that she would not "deliberately mislead" anyone. "Although I had read out the ingredients which included Hydrogen Cyanide, I did not immediately know what this was at the time," her statement read. "My agent did state that I would not promote a product without trying it first, and we needed to be provided with more detail."

"I'd like to say that I would've been [surprised] but I kind of knew that they'd come back and be happy to sell this stuff," Blindboy told BBC Newsbeat on Wednesday. "Social media space at the moment is currently an unregulated wild west."

In response to the fact that he successfully tricked three influencers into promoting a poisonous drink, Blindboy tweeted that it "sounds like a fake VICE headline." Shit, this has gotten real on a number of levels. Pass the Cyanora, yeah?

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