Currently sporting a theme of warm fall tones to match the season, her feed mostly includes selfies of her daily getups, paid advertisements for various beauty products, and candid photos of her picture-perfect family. The Bradenton-based mother's bio reflects as much: "Motherhood • Fashion • Travel • Beauty • Wellness."
But one of Cox's photos last month seems to stray from her usual aesthetic: It features Cox and her family posing near a parked car outside a new Florida Power and Light (FPL) electric vehicle charging station — in one shot sipping on Big Gulps and another analyzing what appears to be a map — all while spreading the good word about one of the latest rollouts from the state's largest utility company.
"We had the BEST time on our road trip," Cox wrote in the August 9 post to her 359,000 followers. "So many adventures were had including Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach and Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale and we never had to worry about finding a charger for our electric vehicle along @insideFPL’s 'EV Expressway!'”
Cox is one of several Instagram influencers enlisted by FPL to post advertisements about its network of electric charging stations unveiled across Florida over the summer. Cox, Miami sibling duo Alexandra Klumpp and Philipp Klumpp (@beyondsouthbeach), and South Florida's Dawn Gibson-Thigpen (@sassyautochick), are among the Instagram users who recently made sponsored posts raving about FPL's fast-charging stations.
To disclose the paid ads clearly, Cox and the Klumpp siblings use the hashtag #FPLPartner, while Gibson-Thigpen uses #sponsoredbyFPL, #insidefpl, and #fplevolution, as well as the slightly more official-looking Branded Content tag. All the posts appear to follow Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules, which require influencers to disclose any material connections they have with a brand that they are endorsing, and to make these disclosures "clear, unambiguous, and conspicuous."
Neither Cox nor Gibson-Thigpen responded to New Times' request for comment via Instagram message. After New Times sent questions via text to Alexandra Klumpp, her shared account deleted an August 9 post that featured two photos of Alexandra smiling while powering up her car at various FPL electric charging stations.
"FPL is really taking it up a notch!" the since-deleted post reads. "The clean energy company is supporting a sustainable future by adding electric charging stations across the state... I took the 'rents on a road trip to Palm Beach. Charging is easy, and the stations are close to hotspots so you can explore while ya power up."
In response to a request for comment via email, FPL spokesperson Florencia Olivera explained that as with any sponsored program, FPL requires influencers to follow FTC guidelines including disclosure of the partnership.
"Like most companies, Florida Power & Light Company uses multiple communication channels to highlight company programs and offerings to its customers," Olivera says in a statement to New Times. "This includes working with influencers who provide FPL a unique opportunity to reach select customers on social media."
In July, the company noted that it had more than 1,000 electric vehicle charging ports across 200 locations in Florida.
Among U.S. states, Florida has the second-highest number of electric vehicles on the road. Still, less than 1 percent of Florida's 16.3 million registered cars and pickups are electric.
FPL's recent promotional campaign, as first noted in a Twitter thread by Miami Herald food editor Carlos Frías, is in keeping with the company's foray into the renewable energy market in Florida while pushing back against outside sources of environmentally friendly energy that could eat into its revenue.
FPL is trying to monopolize renewable energy, by charging customers to build its car charging network, meanwhile fighting homeowner rights to add solar. Now it’s paying top social influencers to post about its network in sponsored ads (not disclosed). 🧵 pic.twitter.com/470cUqqtqu— Carlos Frías (@Carlos_Frias) September 10, 2022
This isn't the first time FPL, which works with the Miami-based marketing agency rbb Communications, has hired Instagram users for sponsored ads.
In 2019, creator Lorraine C. Ladish (@lorrainecladish), lifestyle blogger Efrain Bueres (@officiallyefrain), and Miami celebrity chef Adrianne Calvo (@chefadrianne) all made sponsored Instagram posts advertising the utility company's "energy analyzer tool," which was created for residents to see costs and energy use throughout their home. In October 2020, food blogger @juanbiteatatime also partnered with the company for a post about its "Save Together, Dine Together: FPL Family Challenge," which quizzed families on their energy-efficiency knowledge.
The company's latest PR move follows its recent exposure at the center of intertwining public corruption scandals.
In June, reporters from the Orlando Sentinel and Floodlight detailed how consultants hired by FPL from the Alabama-based political consulting firm Matrix LLC purportedly spied on Jacksonville Times-Union columnist Nate Monroe after Monroe criticized FPL's courting of Jacksonville City Council members. (FPL denied involvement.) In late July, the Sentinel and the Herald chronicled how FPL took control of a small, Tallahassee-based news site and used it to disguise the company's narrative as news and attack naysayers.