Established Titles, a company that sponsors several YouTubers, recently has come under scrutiny due to claims that what it offers is a “scam.” Established Titles (ET) allows customers to dedicate a plot of land to someone for a fee. In return, a PDF is generated with the dedicatee’s name on it proclaiming that the person in question is supposedly a ‘lord’ or ‘lady’ based on a tradition in Scotland. Each plot that is sponsored also means ET will have a tree planted.
In 2020 I sponsored a plot via Established Titles. There was no legal speech regarding whether I could legally call myself a lord during the transaction. The site did say I could put that title on documents, but it was up to my local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) if I could officially do that. That’s not the biggest concern. Landownership is. In a strange marketing choice by ET, the company was running Facebook ads stating that you can “buy a 1 square foot plot of Scotland...” See the screenshot from Scott Shafer below:
Various media outlets, YouTubers, and ET’s customers are expressing concerns that they were sold on the idea due to some not-so-truthful marketing. The issues people have with ET concern the validity of the lord/ladyship, who truly owns the plot of land, and if trees are indeed being planted. Lousy marketing may be to blame for some of this, but the issue has quickly grown legs and is running at breakneck speed through the internet. According to YouTuber Scott Shafer, these concerns have elevated to the point where the company may now be under investigation by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ACA).
To mitigate the damage from these claims, the company posted a lengthy response to the allegations, including a video interview with the company’s founder, Kat Yip. Something that works in favor of ET is that the conservation efforts may be in earnest, as ET provided a screenshot from Trees For The Future showing that over 2 million trees have been planted thanks to the company.
According to NBC News, the fallout of the accusations of Established Titles being a scam has led to YouTube creators dropping the company. These creators include names like Philip DeFranco, Heavy Spoilers, and Browntable. One of those creators who dropped out was The Quartering. In a video he made before ditching Established titles, his sponsored segment contained some misleading info, “They [ET] allow people to buy as little as one square foot of dedicated land so they [the purchaser] can call themselves a ‘lord’ or ‘lady’ officially.”
No, you’re not buying land. Not at all. Not even close. You’re dedicating $50+ for Established Titles to get a souvenir plot. In ET’s own words:
The plots of land themselves are recognised and referred to as ‘souvenir plots’ in Scotland. Though souvenir plots are typically too small to be registered with the Scottish Land Registry directly, we maintain our own private records and take our arrangements with our Lords and Ladies very seriously.
Established Titles would, I assume, need to approve or deny the spiel the sponsored party would use in their video. While I cannot verify if the company was reviewing every sponsored ad script, I can say that we’ve seen YouTubers inaccurately describe the product and service on offer. However, ET’s response was to post a snapshot of the brief they allegedly sent to YouTubers:
A can of worms bursts open when you look at who Katerina Yip works for. The founder of ET is also the co-founder and president of Fail Ventures. The company boasts 70+ failed ventures and a few successful ones. Two of those successful ventures include Established Titles and Kamikoto. Kamikoto and the knives the business offers are an entirely different can of worms to get into. To save time, I suggest you check Shadiversity’s video on expensive blades and their quality. The other co-founder of Fail Ventures, as told by MSN, is the man behind the gambling-based auction house known as DealDash.
So, who is ultimately to blame? Everyone has some share. Established Titles should have reigned in the people being sponsored who inaccurately described what the company was doing. Established Titles should have been more transparent when it came to ads run on social media websites, or if this was the doing of an advertising agency, the ads should have been approved beforehand. YouTubers should have better understood what the sponsor offered. Finally, customers should have read through everything if they thought the title was real or that they were, indeed, purchasing a plot of land in Scotland.
[Source: MSN] [Source: NBC News] [Source: Established Titles] [Source: One Tree Planted] [Source: Established Titles Facebook]