- A group of organizations including Public Citizen, the Center for Digital Democracy, Commercial Alert and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood have written a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requesting an investigation into celebrity influencer campaigns on Instagram that don’t include proper ad disclosures, Media Post reports.
- "Disguised advertisements are inherently deceptive, because consumers do not know to apply appropriate screens," the letter said. "The issue is acute with disguised ads featuring paid endorsements, where deceived consumers believe admired celebrities are making genuine, self-directed and enthusiastic endorsements of brands, not realizing that those celebrities are instead paid and may not even use the touted brand."
- Citing brands from Puma to Flat Tummy Tea and celebrities from Rihanna to Kim Kardashian, the letter pointed to a study that found 113 celebrities who are endorsing products on social media without proper disclosures. The letter urges the FTC to take action against the brands and the influencers to discourage the practice.
Influencer marketing on social media is the latest version of a celebrity endorsement for brands. But the practice has largely been left unregulated until now, with many endorsers not disclosing they are being paid.
The letter follows in the wake of a report from Truth in Advertising that accused the Kardashian clan of not properly disclosing commercial relationships with brands they post about on social media. The nonprofit wrote a letter to the Kardashian and Jenner clan asking them directly to begin properly tagging sponsored posts with at least “#ad” if nothing else.
Lately, the FTC has become much more active in policing social influencer campaigns. This year, Warner Bros. and Lord & Taylor were both hit by sanctions from the FTC over the practice.
Brands should beware of doing any influencer marketing without the proper disclosures. The FTC has made it clear that the brand is on the hook for making sure that paid advertisements are properly disclosed by influencers. A recent survey of influencers by SheSpeaks found that 25% of respondents have been directly asked by brands to not disclose that sponsored posts were paid for by the brands.