How did he survive? PR and TikTok votes stored Matt Hancock within the I am a Superstar jungle

When Matt Hancock entered the I am a Superstar … Get Me Out of Right here! the jungle, pundits predicted he could be the primary to be voted out.

His determination to seem on the ITV programme, regardless of his report through the pandemic and the truth that he’s a sitting MP, had sparked anger and disgust. Greater than 1,700 individuals complained to Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, and the Covid-19 Bereaved Households for Justice group issued a scathing assertion.

“The truth that he’s making an attempt to revenue from his horrible legacy, somewhat than displaying some humility or making an attempt to mirror on the horrible penalties of his time in authorities, says the whole lot concerning the sort of particular person he’s,” a spokesperson mentioned.

However regardless of the criticism – or maybe due to it – the previous well being secretary has received the help of an unlikely crowd, enduring greater than two weeks within the jungle and surviving eight eliminations to succeed in immediately’s last.

Assist from younger TikTok customers — boosted by a concerted effort from his PR crew — seems to have been key to his on-screen success, in line with PR specialists and political rivals.

Previously few days, earlier than the ultimate on ITV on Sunday night time, members of Hancock’s PR crew lobbied for votes on the app – repeatedly encouraging individuals to vote for him and giving them step-by-step directions.

Jill Scott and Matt Hancock during the bushtucker trial in I'm a Celebrity...
Jill Scott and Matt Hancock through the bushtucker trial in I am a Superstar… Picture: James Gourley/ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

One video, addressed to “crew Matt”, mentioned their mission was to “hold Matt within the jungle”. It added that they need to “obtain I am a Superstar… app and vote 5 occasions”, or name the voting quantity. “All the time use all my votes to maintain Matt in!” wrote one TikToker in response. One other video was billed as a “step-by-step information to holding Matt within the jungle” and confirmed somebody scrolling by the app on their cellphone and voting for Hancock repeatedly.

The TikTok marketing campaign is not breaking the principles: ITV’s web site says viewers can vote as much as 5 occasions every through the app, whereas those that vote through textual content or cellphone can vote as much as 600 occasions from a single quantity earlier than it is deemed suspicious and unfair to the opposite contestants.

However it’s a acutely aware technique. Since November 8, Hancock’s PR crew has posted 24 movies of him on the app, all linked to his efficiency within the jungle. He now has greater than 77,000 followers and not less than 511,800 likes on his official TikTok account, whereas movies of his have been considered a complete of 400 million occasions, in line with TikTok’s inside knowledge.

Keeping up the pressure: publicity for Hancock on TikTok.
Maintaining the stress: publicity for Hancock on TikTok. Picture: TikTok

besides Hollyoaks actor Owen Warner, the corresponding statistics for different stars are a lot worse. Former rugby participant Mike Tindall, who was voted off final night time, has lower than 3,500 followers, with simply over 26,000 likes, whereas what seems to be the official account of former England footballer Jill Scott, who was tipped as favourite to win when he entered the finals tonight, has about 2,180 followers and fewer than 900 likes.

On Twitter and Instagram, the opposite I am a Superstar… contestants do have a higher presence. Nevertheless it’s TikTok — the place movies have been promoted by the algorithm and hashtags like #matthancockfanclub have gained traction — which were so essential to Hancock, PR guru Mark Borkowski mentioned.

“I feel TikTok has been fairly essential to him. I feel [users] see him as some sort of anomaly, one thing that’s winding down the older technology, so why do not we simply play pranks?” Borkowski mentioned. He added: “The individuals who had been instructing him again in Blighty have achieved an excellent job with TikTok. Quite a lot of it’s instructing the viewers what to do, to make use of the app, vote for Matt. And that bit has been intelligent.”

However software program utilized by Borkowski’s crew to trace media protection reveals that feedback on articles and social media posts about Hancock, 44, stay largely destructive. Throughout her time as well being secretary, the MP for West Suffolk oversaw the unlawful discharge of hospital sufferers to care houses on the top of the pandemic and broke transparency guidelines by failing to publish particulars of multi-billion pound authorities PPE contracts. He was subsequently pressured to resign as well being secretary after that Photo voltaic posted footage of him kissing his aide Gina Coladangelo whereas social distancing guidelines had been in place.

Whereas Borkowksi believes the general public’s view of Hancock stays weak, he says youthful followers might help him win. Nonetheless, he does not suppose it should repay. “I do not suppose he has a political profession after that. I feel he’ll be ridiculed,” Borkowksi mentioned. “He is like a pantomime villain. I can see him doing odd advert campaigns.”

Ian Houlder, a Conservative councilor in Hancock’s West Suffolk seat, was equally scathing. He additionally believes that Hancock’s success on the present is all the way down to youthful audiences. “I feel it is all the way down to demographics; it is the Corbyn impact,” says Houlder, 73.

He desires Mr Hancock to resign however fears his TV stint will embolden him sooner or later and known as on the native Conservative Affiliation to carry a membership vote to take away him. “What I hope is that he does not come again and suppose, ‘I am probably the most well-known particular person in England and I’ll go on as an MP.’ I’ll completely go over. It’s horrible that he thinks he can simply stroll away from his constituency,” he mentioned.

Jo Hemmings, behavioral and media psychologist, was extra optimistic in his evaluation. She mentioned Hancock had defied expectations of the present by making it to the ultimate and coming throughout as “somebody who has extra human qualities than they may count on and who is not such a nasty man in spite of everything”.

She admits to being baffled by the shift in public opinion – from him being seen because the face of pandemic abuse, rule-breaking and loss of life to being seen as a likeable campmate – and believes it should have raised producers’ expectations.

“They performed with individuals’s minds by placing him in there. He is clearly not perceived as a villain of the piece. I feel he was put in to fill that function,” she mentioned.

Mud, mud: Matt Hancock during the show.
Mud, mud: Matt Hancock through the present. Picture: James Gourley/ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

“He went in there to be laughed at, humiliated, punished and really he is achieved properly,” she added. “He will get out of it as he supposed to get out of it.”

Hancock’s crew mentioned he had been “engaged on constituency points” within the jungle, including that the present’s “producers have agreed that Matt can talk together with his crew if there’s an pressing constituency matter whereas he’s on the present”. “As quickly as Matt is prepared. As soon as the camp is up, he’ll return to Suffolk to conduct operations the place he’ll meet up with his constituents and talk about problems with concern,” a spokesperson mentioned.

A TheyA spokesman mentioned he would make a donation to a hospice and trigger supporting dyslexia from his payment, though they haven’t but mentioned how a lot of the rumored £400,000 might be given to charity.

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