Instagram Is The New TV

A too-close look at Karlie Kloss’s new eBay ad

I’m human, so I look at Instagram every twenty minutes. Between all the friends and acquaintances and nail artists I follow, there are usually ads—this much I’ve gotten used to, though I was once shocked by it. But recently I’ve noted there are TONS of them, and from real brands, not just pixelated vitamin suppliers. There are ads for cheesy-looking new ABC shows, close-captioned Walmart sponsored video posts, and Delta ads that are also somehow Amex ads featuring Tegan and Sara. They’re coming hard and fast down the pike, especially now that the timeline isn’t even a goddamn timeline.

Yesterday, about a year into the inclusion of ads on the platform, Facebook’s Instagram (which, let’s just take a moment to recognize how odd that phrasing is—Instagram is literally a brand’s brand) announced that it’s sold ads to a half a million brands, so basically every third post you see is now an ad.

However, I also follow Karlie Kloss and other celebrities (I’m human, remember), so I see a fair bit of #sponsored #ad content now and then. It’ll be something like Kim Kardashian with blue gummy bears in her hair or Chrissy Teigen with a Chase Sapphire card in her teeth. Today I was fed a full commercial from Karlie Kloss, which was amazing because it was just a fully produced video ad like the ones you used to see on television when you used to watch live television.

I am also captivated by the idea that eBay is now lowkey trying to be like, “Hey, we can do Amazon, remember us, we sell items and ship items! Many of the items on eBay are new, really, it’s not just for like re-selling your old jeans or stereo equipment. No seriously, haven’t you noticed that Amazon kind of became like eBay anyway at some point with the sellers and the ratings and stuff? Or was it the other way around? Please come back. We are a competitor. To Amazon.”

We all use Amazon all the time, except for those conscientious abstainers who are like, “nah too much cardboard” or “I only go to real stores” or “the drones don’t reach my estate.” And eBay knows that, and it wants some of our business back.


Another great thing about this ad is how the title card makes it look like a cool branding collab between Karlie and eBay, like Outdoor Voices x Glossier or Chance the Rapper x H&M x Kenzo; you know that because of the sans serif font and the x meaning cross like between but also cool:

There’s also a hashtag, because this is Instagram: #eBayUnboxed. Currently this hashtag hosts mostly duplicates of this video and stills from the same campaign, and a similar ad by celebrity interior designer Nate Berkus with much lower production value and a much sadder quote: “For some reason, people think of eBay as a place to find, like, dusty collectibles and I can’t figure out why.” Nate Berkus, you know exactly why. He goes on to say unenthusiastically that he finds the “best new things” for himself and his family and you guys should check it out. It’s very sad.

The ad reminds us that many items ship within three days and because Karlie is holding a green juice and wearing beige over-the-ear headphones atop her all-red athleisure outfit, many of these items are probably similarly cool because Karlie has cool, hip taste:

This next screen to me just screams, quietly, desperately, “Oh um also and a lot of items ship for free even though we don’t have a memorable moniker for it like ‘Prime’ but just trust us it’s the same, we’re a competitor.”

The saddest thing I think about this ad is the timestamp on Karlie’s iPhone:

6:33am, still technically in night mode 🙁

The ad reminds you too that in addition to baking cookies, Karlie kodes, which is brand-adjacent to eBay, a tech company:

Baking with one hand, koding with the other

My main criticisms of this ad are: 1) Karlie very clearly says “I need to re-decorate,” though her apartment is clearly empty to begin with, and 2) it is very desperate and earnest on eBay’s part. Also Karlie will shill for anything (the same is ALMOST true of Kate Moss but the distinction is subtle: KM can sell anything; Karlie will). By the way, don’t bother Googling every item you see in the ad because I have already done that, and yes, you can buy Philippe Starck ghost chairs on eBay:

Ghost Chair | eBay

“Did we miss anything?” Karlie asks her newly decorated apartment. Yes: Seamless. Just keep scrolling: