Inside the world of social media advertising in Iran

Al-Monitor | : Fatemeh sits in the driver’s seat of the car with a PlayStation 4 on her lap. “Happy Birthday,” she shouts at her husband as he hops in the car. Mohamaad is ecstatic and asks if his wife got him games, too. She answers, “No, I don’t know what games you want, but you can go to the Play Store and get them yourself!” In the next scene, we find Mohamaad dancing to a Persian song on his way to Tehran’s Play Store. This is one of the many quirky advertising videos Fatemeh (@1fatemeh_arjmandi) and Mohamaad (@mohamaad_vf) post on their Instagram accounts. The adorable Iranian online celebrity couple has over 930,000 followers and offers ad space in the form of videos for everything from online retail stores to video game shops while adding a tinge of Iranian humor.

Farhad, a sales and marketing expert based in Tehran, explained to Al-Monitor that this couple isn’t the only Instagram influencer. Other online celebrities, such as Mohammad Amin Karimpour (@mohammadaminkarimpour), also post silly videos and offer ad space. “For about 40 million rials [$1,137], you can get them to post a video with your product, which gets the privilege of being shared among people via Telegram and Instagram,” said Farhad. “But on Instagram accounts, such as Palange Irooni or similar, they charge 1,000 rials (35 cents) and oftentimes delete the post after two hours.” Scrolling through Palange Irooni’s entertainment account (@Palange_Irooni), which has over 1.1 million followers, you’ll find ads posted for everything from dentistry and diet pills to designer watch stores.

Other Iranian entrepreneurs use Instagram accounts to promote their brands and products. Tezar Plaza (@tezarplaza) is an online shopping retail store that caters to Tehran’s elite and promises original designer goods — everything from Christian Louboutin to Chanel — sold at a 20% markup and with a 3- to 14-day delivery guarantee from Europe. Tezar Plaza opened in 2012 in the Fereshteh neighborhood, known as the Beverly Hills of Tehran, but for the past two years, owner Hamed Qmarsy has moved his shop online. “I realized that I’m a lot more comfortable doing orders online,” Qmarsy told Al-Monitor. “Some like working in a store, but I prefer doing it from home.”

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