Making The DistinctionAs the FTC has reminded celebrity social media users many times in the past, if they are being paid by a brand to post such photos, they have to “clearly and conspicuously” disclose that relationship. Merely burying “#ad” among multiple other hashtags is not sufficient. The same goes for a disclosure at the end of a very long caption that is automatically truncated by the social media app of choice. Related: After FDA Warning, Kim Kardashian Posts Corrected Endorsement Of Morning Sickness Pill It’s not all on the reality stars, though; TINA points out that brands are legally obligated to ensure so-called “influencers” adequately disclose their material connection — which can range from compensation to free products to a business or family relationship — in posts.
Here We Go AgainWhile TINA notes that the Kardashian and Jenner sisters fixed, deleted, or modified about 45% of the posts in violation of disclosure following the group’s complaint last year, that still left another 55% either unchanged or with insufficient disclosures. Additionally, several of the brands contacted last year for failing to hold up their end of the disclosure requirement are once again involved in ad violations when it comes to the Kardashian and Jenner posts. For instance, TINA found that Puma, Manuka Doctor, Jet Lux, Fit Tea, and Sugar Bear Hair were repeat offenders. Brands such as Adidas, Diff Eyewear, Alexander Wang, and Lyft were new additions. TINA has alerted the family and their associated brands, as well as the FTC, to this latest batch of allegedly deceptive social media posts.
It’s Not EnoughEven when the Kardashian and Jenner sisters do attempt to disclose their material connection with brands on social media, they don’t do a very good job of it, TINA claims. The group contends that the post disclosures fail to meet the FTC’s standards on clear, unambiguous language. TINA claims to have found dozens of instances in which the sisters made “half-hearted attempts at disclosure” by using “cryptic hashtags” such as #sp (meaning sponsored), #PWCollab (Protein World collaboration), and #KJ4EL (Kendall Jenner for Estee Lauder).
A DiscrepancyAlthough TINA found that the reality stars weren’t great at disclosing when posts were ads on all social media avenues, they also claim the women’s posts show they know when to note a post is an ad. For instance, Kendall Jenner shared the same post about Jet Lux on Instagram and Facebook. However, in the Instagram post the model includes the #ad disclosure at the beginning of her caption, while the Facebook post doesn’t include the disclosure at all.
Looking For ActionTINA says it has notified the FTC of its latest findings related to the Kardashian and Jenner sisters’ posts. To date, however, TINA points out that the reality stars have largely escaped the FTC’s attempts to rein in bad ads. Earlier this month, the FTC escalated its crackdown on stealth-advertisements by sending warning letters [PDF] to 21 celebrities including supermodel Naomi Campbell, actresses Vanessa Hudgens, Lindsay Lohan, Lucy Hale, Sofia Vergara, and reality stars — like Snooki from Jersey Shore who show off clothing, food, alcohol, and other products or services through posts on Instagram. None of the Kardashian or Jenner sisters were included in this list, however, Kourtney’s former boyfriend Scott Disick — who is continuously hanging around the family — was included. TINA adds that the FTC has recently stated that action against an individual endorser might be appropriate “if the endorser has continued to fail to make required disclosures despite warnings.” In that case, the group believes the FTC could “take its pick of any of the five Kardashian/Jenner sisters. Or better yet, go after them all.”
The secret message is really just L.L Bean’s new manifesto, including feel-good phrases like “Because on the inside, we’re all outsiders. And if it’s outside, we’re all in.” Although it’s a neat gimmick, the payoff is a bit of a disappointment compared to the brazenness of the unique technique — but again, people are talking about the ad. We still can’t help but feel a bit like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, after he finally gets to use his Little Orphan Annie decoder pin to decipher a top-secret message from Annie to her devotees.
Déjà VuEach of the letters begins the same way, reminding the celebrities that this isn’t the first time the FTC has reached out about their proclivity to post photos of themselves enjoy things like high-end suitcases, skin treatments, sunglasses, watches, and other products and services. Mary Engle, FTC associate director for the division of advertising practices, then reminds the influencers that if they are being paid by a brand to post such photos, they have to “clearly and conspicuously” disclose that relationship. As the agency has made clear in the past, merely burying “#ad” among multiple other hashtags is not sufficient. The same goes for a disclosure at the end of a very long caption that is automatically truncated by the Instagram app. While the FTC does not reiterate these points in the most recent letters — as none of the Instagram posts cited include the #ad hashtag — the agency does point out other ways in which the influencers failed to adequately disclose whether or not they were paid to post the content.
A Tag Is Not Disclosure…In the case of Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam — better known as the rapper Akon — the FTC points to two Instagram posts (that have since been deleted) involving Ratel Geneva watches. “In both posts you are wearing a watch that you tagged as ‘ratelgeneve,’” the letter states. “The FTC staff believes that tagging a brand is an endorsement of the brand.” If there is a material connection between Akon and the marketer of the tagged brand, then the posts should disclose that connection. Similarly, in a letter to Naomi Campbell, the FTC questions whether the supermodel has connection to luggage maker Globe-Trotter. The supermodel had posted a photo of three pieces of luggage, accompanied by the caption “#onthemove @globe_trotter1897 #wheretonext ?? #omitravelstheworld.” The FTC notes that while the company is tagged in the post, there is not clear disclosure of whether the celebrity has a material connection to the luggage manufacturer.
Neither Is A “Thank You”When it comes to singer/actress Ciara Wilson, the FTC reminded the celebrity that thanking a brand did not constitute the disclosure of any kind of relationship. For instance, the woman recently posted a picture of three pairs of baby shoes, accompanied by the caption, “Thank You @JonBuscemi.” In the picture, Wilson tagged the shoes “buscemi” and “jonbuscemi.” According to the FTC, the “thank you” is inadequate in disclosing a material connection because it does not sufficiently explain the nature of her relationship to the brand. As with the Akon post, the FTC notes that simply tagging a brand is an endorsement of the brand.
Is It Enough?As we previously mentioned, this isn’t the first time these influences have been contacted by the FTC. In fact, the agency first contacted the celebrities and pseudo-celebrities, as well as brand marketers, back in March with friendly educational letters asking them to pretty please follow the rules when it comes to paid endorsements. Three months later, the FTC sent warning letters to the brands reminding them that Instagram posts must adequately disclose any “material connection” between an advertiser and an influencer, and that these disclosures be “clear” and “conspicuous.” While the letters didn’t go directly to the Instagram influencers, one might hope and/or assume that warning recipients — including brands like Adidas, Chanel, Dunkin’ Donuts, Puma, and Popeyes — might mean they would pass this concern on to the celebrities who stealth-advertised their products. Whether or not that happened, we don’t know. But we do know that the FTC has now bestowed upon the influencers their own warning letters. Public Citizen, which is part of the coalition that sought the FTC’s letters, notes that the agency’s latest step is a welcome one, but it’s not enough. Kristen Strader, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen, said in a statement that the warning letters do not address the “rampant deception” on social media that is only growing. Public Citizen, along with Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and Center for Digital Democracy, found in a report [PDF] earlier this year that nearly every single influencer identified by the FTC continued to post Instagram ads without proper disclosures. “Until the FTC takes enforcement action against companies that facilitate influencer marketing, or influencers who post undisclosed ads, the culture around influencer marketing on social media will remain as it is – accepted consumer deception on behalf of profit-driven companies, without consequences,” Strader said.
Tools ‹ Human Relationships — WordPress
Source: Tools ‹ Human Relationships — WordPress