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The FUTURE of the World is in the Hands of Instagram "Influencers"

What do you do if award-winning journalist Tina Brown invites you to a dinner full of finance leaders at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos—on the night of your birthday, no less?

When it happened this week to Bozoma Saint John, chief marketing officer of the powerhouse entertainment agency Endeavor, she posted on Instagram: “Hold up. This gathering requires a lewwwk. Lemme slay in my @cushnie…. power suit.”

And there she was in her blue velvet glory, standing on the plinth of a statue in a snowdrift, in a series of photos and videos that also showed her hobnobbing with power players from Credit Suisse and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In the influencer algorithm of style x location x powerful friends, Saint John not only nailed it but may have created an entirely new category: the IMFluencer.

Now that Burning Man has peaked. Some attendees find it “self-congratulatory” and “insufferable,” according to the New Republic of all places. Meanwhile, the Sundance Film Festival is “losing its luster with brands and stars” (per the New York Post), Davos is the new pit stop du jour for socially conscious Instagrammers.

The annual four-day summit in a small Swiss town attracts 3,000 of the world’s most powerful leaders in government, business and industry—and the scores of activists who protest them. It is where President Donald Trump hangs with German chancellor Angela Merkel and Charles, Prince of Wales, and where Amazon’s Jeff Bezos swaps numbers with the likes of Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

This year at Davos, though, the kinds of personalities who are usually Instagramming from Burning Man, Coachella, or haute couture shows, were also in town, eagerly geo-tagging the Davos Congress and broadcasting their engagement with social causes. Consider this another sign of the ubiquity of the wellness aristocracy.

The Russian blogger, Miroslava Duma, who canceled two years ago over offensive comments on social media, hit the slopes, and attended some panels, flexing climate awareness for her nearly 2 million followers.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas burnished her brand with a glamour shot using the Swiss Alps as a backdrop, along with a caption promoting the good work of the Global Citizen initiative.

Like Chopra, Julianne Hough stopped by the Equality Lounge, a pop-up that hosts panels and conversations, posed for a picture, hash-tagged the hosts and credited her outfit to Tom Ford.

Natalia Vodianova was there to speak on a panel about women’s health with fellow model-hyphenate, Lily Cole. She posted pictures in the snow, which looked like they came from a very chic ski vacation. Lest anyone mistake the Russian model’s motives, however, her official bio on the WEF Web site states clearly, “Natalia is famous philanthropist.”

Celebrity is capital, of course, even if it is harder to quantify than the funds that put the F in IMF. But it is invaluable in raising awareness for important world causes, and the publicity provided by these Instagram posts would cost millions to buy through other media outlets.

This article originally appeared in Town & Country. Reprinted with permission.


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